Governor Andrew Cuomo designated several vaccination sites in NYCHA public housing developments.
Flickr Governor Cuomo / Courtesy
In this new year that begins and after almost 10 months of fighting a pandemic that has changed our lives, New York begins a massive vaccination program against COVID-19. It is a huge challenge to vaccinate the nearly 20 million New Yorkers who are patiently waiting their turn in this fight, and we need to distribute the vaccine fairly and equitably. In other words, let it be done across the board for all residents of our great state, and there is simply no preference for race, class, or skin color. It simply must be affordable for everyone.
According to experts, we need to vaccinate at least 70 to 90 percent of the population for the vaccine to be effective. And it is no secret that COVID-19 attacked the African-American community at a rate twice that of the white community and the Latino community at a rate greater than 1.5 percent more contagious than whites. These numbers indicate that we must be more at the forefront and promote the vaccine following the concept of social justice to prevent this disparity from being repeated in these communities that have been decimated by the virus.
As co-chair of the Vaccination Equity Task Force, a group that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo appointed to make the vaccination process more equitable in New York, I ask our Latino and African-American residents to be ready to get vaccinated and we assure you that New York is committed to making the vaccine is available to everyone in every corner of the state. Our efforts include making the vaccination process fair and equitable so that everyone gets the necessary immunization as soon as possible.
The vaccine is the safest and most direct way to protect ourselves against COVID-19. The vaccines that have so far been approved by the federal government were subjected to a long process of clinical tests that did not show adverse effects on human well-being. The two approved vaccines are the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. In addition to federal government approval, in New York, a group of governor-appointed clinical counselors reviewed and approved vaccines that are already being provided to New Yorkers. Most importantly, they are safe and effective.
Now that the vaccination process has begun, our most important challenge is to distribute this vaccine fairly and quickly. COVID-19 exposed the social divisions and inequality in access to health programs that exist in our society. Being successful in the vaccination process requires everyone’s attention and collaboration. The process requires individual responsibility to get vaccinated and a community obligation to encourage the participation of its residents. Quite simply, no one can be sure if we are all not sure.
To carry out this mission, all places are welcome. We are ready to bring the vaccination process to churches, to community centers near your home, to pharmacies, to specifically designated sites for vaccinations, and much like the testing centers that have been operating for months in the state, nearby hospitals, health centers and, finally, any place that is convenient and effective to bring the vaccine to the communities.
Lastly, the vaccine is an effective weapon against COVID-19, but this battle is not one day. It can last for months and New Yorkers need to continue with protective guidelines such as wearing a mask, maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet, washing hands frequently, and avoiding large gatherings.
The fight against COVID continues. We have a weapon that is the vaccine and we are ready to provide it fairly, quickly and equitably for all New Yorkers, especially the most affected communities such as those where ethnic minorities reside. Get vaccinated New York!
-Rossana Rosado is the Secretary of State of New York