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Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo keep droning on about vaccine “equity,” and yet rates in New York’s minority neighborhoods and among the state’s elderly continue to lag —badly.
Just 21 percent of residents in the Far Rockaways’ zip code 11691 have gotten at least one shot vs. a whopping 64 percent in the Upper East Side’s 10075.
Queens’ CitiField ballpark is home to one of the city’s highest-profile vaccination hubs, yet its zip code 11368 (which covers parts of Corona and Flushing) is the third-least vaccinated across the five boroughs, with just 20.2 percent of residents jabbed at least once, far below the citywide average of 31 percent.
As for the elderly, the Empire State ranks 44th in the country on the share of over-65s jabbed at least once. In the rest of the country, it’s 73 percent; in New York, just 67 percent.
The obvious culprit: The overly complex state system for getting an appointment, which slowed early efforts as Cuomo focused more on keeping “unqualified” people from getting the vaccine, rather than on getting as many shots in arms as fast as possible. The gov’s threats of huge fines for vaxxing the “wrong” person also had drugstores and other alternate vax sites triple-checking everything.
Every Web site seems to have its sign-in protocol, and some require you to jump through multiple hoops only to learn no slots are available.
Between the “digital divide” and many seniors’ lack of online savvy, all this guaranteed slower rates for the poor and the elderly.
“The only way they are able to access those appointments is to use a very, very complicated tech platform that in and of itself marginalizes the elderly community that I serve,” noted Eboné Carrington, the chief executive of Harlem Hospital.
It’s getting easier now, but New York has a long way to catch up. Hope that if there’s ever another pandemic, the state is led by someone who understands the virtues of “Keep it simple, stupid.”
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