Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity on Friday outlined the City’s Vaccine Equity Plan and launched the vaccine command center.
The plan comes as the city is expected to receive 465,000 doses of the vaccine by the beginning of January. In accordance with State and Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, the initial expected doses will be given to nursing homes and health care personnel performing high-risk activities.
The first shipments of the vaccine will be sent to hospitals, who have the capacity for ultracold storage, which is required for the Pfizer vaccine. Other healthcare personnel will receive the vaccine next.
After the aforementioned first-responders are vaccinated, through targeted outreach and a network of trusted community messengers, the city will ensure equitable vaccine distribution to the 27 hardest-hit neighborhoods identified by the Task Force.
The city will also stand up a dedicated Vaccine Command Center to coordinate vaccine distribution across the city. Through the Center, the City will track critical metrics on vaccine coverage, with a priority focus on the 27 neighborhoods.
“A vaccine must be distributed equally to be effective,” said de Blasio. “COVID-19 has exposed our city’s most painful disparities, and we are addressing those inequities head-on and making a vaccine available for all New Yorkers.”
Under the plan, the city will use NYCHA space—including NYC Health + Hospitals clinics—to vaccinate priority populations, following the successful partnership model the city established with NYCHA for COVID-19 testing. Through a broader outreach effort, the city will work with NYCHA residents, community partners, and faith leaders to spread accurate and trustworthy information about the vaccine and improve the distribution process.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will also host virtual conversations with residents in the 27 neighborhoods and community leaders to share information on vaccine planning and provide opportunities for community members to raise questions and concerns. Community partners will have access to a training model, allowing them to serve as trusted messengers and hold webinars and community conversations on the City’s vaccine plan information and updates
The Taskforce on Racial Inclusion & Equity will also establish a subcommittee to focus on vaccine distribution in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods and engage their robust network of over 200 community organizations to ensure effective outreach. Their work will inform the City’s Vaccine Equity Principles, a set of commitments to ensure the vaccine is accessible to priority populations, with the obligation to continually solicit feedback from hardest-hit neighborhoods throughout the distribution process.
Headquartered at 253 Broadway in Manhattan, the Vaccine Command Center—a joint initiative between DOHMH, NYC Health + Hospitals, The Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity Task Force, the Mayor’s Office for Community and Faith Partnerships, Public Engagement Unit, and other agencies—will provide real-time troubleshooting and rapid response across public and private providers, including urgent cares, private pharmacies, hospitals, and community vaccination sites.
To build trust in a safe and effective vaccine, the Command Center will deploy Test & Trace Corps members and DOHMH outreach teams citywide. These teams will coordinate with elected officials and community leaders on neighborhood vaccination drives. They will also support the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity and NYCHA to publicize official, science-based messaging.