N.Y.C. Covid Vaccine Disparities Revealed in ZIP Code Data: Officials

Officials in New York City released new data by ZIP codes on Tuesday that they said underscored troubling disparities in the city’s vaccination effort, with the share of residents who are fully vaccinated in some wealthier Upper West and East Side ZIP codes, which have high proportions of white residents, reaching up to eight times the rate in parts of predominantly Black neighborhoods like East New York.

The figures for individual ZIP codes provided one of the most granular pictures of the city’s vaccination effort to date. And it added more evidence suggesting that across the country, the vaccine appears to be flowing disproportionately toward areas with wealthy and white residents, even though low-income communities of color remain the hardest hit by the coronavirus.

Still, questions remained. The new city data does not break down vaccine recipients by race in each ZIP code, nor does it account for how many people in each ZIP code are eligible to be vaccinated.

Asked whether the city knew whether some ZIP codes with high vaccination rates also had high concentrations of residents in the earliest eligible categories, like doctors and nurses, police officers and nursing-home residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city did not “have the level of data that would be ideal.”

Gathering the right data has also been a problem nationally, as federal officials have struggled to keep track of the race and ethnicity of people being vaccinated, despite the emphasis President Biden has given to racial equity in his coronavirus response.

In New York City, Mr. de Blasio said he wanted to see vaccination rates “even out” across the city.

In one ZIP code in Lenox Hill on the city’s Upper East Side, for example, the city found that 16 percent of adults had received both doses of vaccine. The median household income in the Upper East Side and some surrounding neighborhoods is about $120,868, according to recent census data — roughly double the citywide figure.

By contrast, in two ZIP codes around East New York, only 2 percent of adults have received both vaccine doses. The median household income in and around East New York is about $38,000, according to census data.

In Breezy Point, Queens, some 13 percent of adults had received both doses, and 27 percent had received at least one, the figures show, while on City Island in the Bronx, 25 percent had gotten both doses.

Broadly, ZIP codes in Manhattan and Staten Island showed higher vaccination rates than those in the South Bronx, central Queens or central Brooklyn, according to Dr. Torian Easterling, deputy commissioner and chief equity officer for the city’s health department.

“The ZIP code data not only provides a map of where New Yorkers are being vaccinated, but also a road map to our Covid response,” Dr. Easterling said.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo released data that showed white people were being vaccinated at a higher rate than expected based on their eligible population in every region statewide. But Black people were being vaccinated at about half the expected rate in most regions.

In New York City, for example, 58 percent of those vaccinated were white, while white people made up only 52 percent of the eligible population, according to the state data. About 14.4 percent of those vaccinated were Black, despite Black people comprising more than 30 percent of the eligible population.

About 16 percent of those vaccinated in the city were Hispanic or Latino, but Hispanic or Latino people make up about 24 percent of the eligible population, according to the state data.

Experts say people across the country who live in underserved neighborhoods face a variety of obstacles to vaccination, including registration systems and websites that can take hours to navigate, a lack of transportation and difficulty getting time off from work to get a shot. Many people in communities of color are more likely to be hesitant about getting vaccinated, in light of the history of unethical medical research in the United States.

Mr. de Blasio said on Tuesday that a new vaccine site was opening on Wednesday at the Teachers Preparatory High School in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and would be open six days a week and give priority to home health aides and to people living in Brownsville and East New York.

“This is about addressing inequality, doing something very tangible about it,” he said.

Another new vaccine site would open on Thursday at the Empire Outlets in Staten Island, he said.

The city vaccinated 317,227 people last week, including 55,339 people on one day, Mr. de Blasio said, adding that more than 10 percent of New Yorkers had now received at least one dose. He said the city could vaccinate far more people each day if it could get more doses from the federal government.

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