Only one of every three Black New Yorkers who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine has actually taken a shot, according to data released on the state’s official tracker. The trend applies to older Black residents as well as Black essential workers.
African Americans make up 13% of those eligible over the age of 65, but they’ve taken only 4% of this group’s vaccine doses so far. Likewise, older Latinos have received about half of their necessary allotment; they’ve gotten 5% of the vaccinations but comprise 12% of this phase 1b group.
The opposite applies for white and Asian people 65 and up, both of which are already accounting for their expected share of vaccine doses. Older white adults make up 77% of those eligible and they’ve received 78% of the vaccinations. Older Asians embody 7% of the group and have had 8% of the vaccinations.
This state data is current as of February 4th, and separates race from ethnicity. It also breaks down disparity differences between hospital workers in phase 1a and essential workers in phase 1b, such as teachers and transit workers.
Black essential workers have also received less than a third of their portion of vaccine.
White and Asian essential workers are fully covered, while Latino members of this group have taken about three of every four doses expected for them.
City and state officials have said the racial disparities in the vaccination program have been caused by vaccine hesitancy as well as access challenges.
“This is a real challenge, and I don’t believe in camouflaging a problem because you never solve a problem that you’re unwilling to admit,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a Friday press briefing showing the state data. “We expected it. We talked about it early on. We are addressing it. But it still exists.”
Cuomo believes the data from hospital workers—who have direct access to shots through their medical settings—indicates vaccine hesitancy is a major challenge among Black New Yorkers.
Among hospital workers, 17% of employees are African American, though just 10% are vaccine recipients, so far. White hospital workers make up 70% of the group, and 63% of vaccinations. Asian and Latino hospital workers are overrepresented in the state data as of February 4th, suggesting their groups are fully covered by the vaccine.
State officials have also released vaccination rates among hospital workers by county, which vary between different regions across the state. Among the five boroughs, Staten Island has the highest percentage of hospital workers who’ve gotten at least one dose at 81%. That is followed by Manhattan at 78%, the Bronx at 74%, Queens at 73%, and Brooklyn at 62%. Albany, Rensselaer, and Cayuga counties rank the highest in the state, with at least nine of 10 their hospital workers being vaccinated.
Here’s the data mapped out:
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have for months stressed the importance of vaccine equity. Both have spoken with faith leaders and addressed church congregations. They’ve set up vaccine sites in neighborhoods of color and at public housing complexes and launched campaigns to encourage people to get vaccinated.
City data made public a couple months into the vaccine rollout show those efforts have not been enough to avoid a repeat of racial disparities seen during the peak of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are dying of COVID-19 at nearly twice the rate of white NYC residents.
A poll from the Association for a Better New York released in late January suggests vaccine hesitancy is higher among Black, Latino, and Asian residents in New York, though this survey wasn’t representative and was biased toward people with Internet access. But access challenges in the distribution have also plagued the vaccination campaign from the beginning—from a patchwork of different websites to navigate and linguistic barriers to criticism that officials have not conducted as much community outreach as they should.
Not all New Yorkers have access to broadband internet as well. For those over 65 who live alone, 40% have broadband at home, and though NYC is 51% Black and Hispanic, less than half of households with broadband are among those groups, according to city stats published in a January plan to bring internet to all.