Since word of the COVID-19 vaccine was ready for distribution, leaders vowed to make sure Black New Yorkers would get it equally. As the city continues its mission to vaccinate people, numbers reveal an unsurprising racial disparity when it comes to who’s getting it.

Numbers released Sunday, Jan. 31, by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reveals that when broken down by race, whites make up 48% of those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine while Blacks make up only 11%.

Officials say the number is troubling due to the high infection rate in New York’s Black neighborhoods and the recent shortage of the vaccine. Vaccinations were halted this week on Monday and Tuesday due to the winter storm.

“Data is the lifeblood of our response and identifying where vaccine uptake is lower will help us adapt to ensure an equitable distribution,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. “We need all New Yorkers to know that this vaccine is safe and effective, and we are working hard every day to ensure we have the supply to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible.”

News about the racial disparity in vaccine distribution comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio initially announced in December that the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods, which are mostly Black and Brown communities, would not be left out of the city’s vaccine effort.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he would wait to get the vaccine until Black, Hispanic and poor communities in his group receive the vaccine.

De Blasio and the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity announced on Sunday an effort to broaden vaccine outreach to 33 neighborhoods. The outreach will address vaccine hesitancy, prioritize appointments, add new vaccine sites and improve the scheduling website.

“We launched our vaccine effort with a clear commitment to provide a vaccine for all New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now we are going even further to ensure the vaccine reaches everyone––equally––with a focus on the neighborhoods we know have borne the brunt of COVID-19.”

First lady Chirlane McCray, who co-chairs the taskforce, said admiring the vaccine is a priority in the city’s recovery efforts.

“As distribution expands, we will continue gathering more data and processing what we have learned over the past year so that our hardest hit neighborhoods are fully supported and included in the plan.”

Leaders blame several factors on why the vaccine numbers in the New York’s Black community is so low. While hesitancy continues to be a factor due to a lack of trust in the medical system among Blacks, the vaccine is not being administered to targeted people in certain neighborhoods.

Reports surfaced last week that white residents in counties close to the city were coming to New York to get the vaccine. The issue was seen at the Fort Washington Armory in Washington Heights where white residents from Westchester County and even New Jersey were seen getting vaccines meant for a targeted community.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that the racial disparities in the vaccine distribution is a failure. Several leaders, including Williams, had been asking for a demographic breakdown of who has been getting the vaccine and aren’t surprised by the results.

“Many of us knew this would be the case, and we know there are many contributing factors, from infrastructure inadequacy and technological failures to cultural hesitancy to longstanding health care privileges and disparities,” Williams said. “We know too that the government––city, state, and federal––each had a role in creating this divide, and has a responsibility to equitably close it.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has called on the city’s health department to release vaccine demographics for weeks. He said the results are what he feared.

“The failure to administer this vaccine to the populations in greatest need, communities that have suffered the most from the inequitable impact of the pandemic, is a stain on City Hall’s reputation that won’t soon be erased,” Adams said.

On Thursday, Feb. 4, a rally was held in Herald Square in Manhattan organized by Workers Assembly Against Racism to demand that Black and Brown communities be prioritized in the rollout of the vaccination.

Speaking to the AmNews, organizer Terrea Mitchell said Black and Brown New Yorkers of all ages should be prioritized for the vaccine due to the fact that they make up most of the city’s essential workforce and are more susceptible to COVID-19.

“What they should have done when they did the roll out is targeted the communities that were hardest hit by the COVID virus in the first place regardless of age,” she said. “If a zip code has shown that a lot of people have been infected or died of COVID, those people should have been vaccinated first. They should have been at the top tier with the health care workers. It should have been a dual pronged approach.”