A recent list released by the New York State governor’s office presented the top 25 areas with the lowest vaccination rates.
Seven of them are in New York City. All of them in either Brooklyn or Queens.
According to the list released by the state government, of the seven, Williamsburg in Brooklyn had the lowest vaccination rate (32.7%). Canarsie stands at 34.3 vaccination rate while Brownsville and Far Rockaway clock in at 35.8% and 33.4% respectively.
Ocean Hill, Crown Heights and Borough Park round out the unfortunate seven.
As of Wednesday, New York State’s vaccination rate among adults stood at 71.1% (adults make up 68.5% of state’s population). Among that 71%, 63% are fully vaccinated.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the next focus on vaccinations should be directed to 12 to 17-year-olds. The governor’s office is holding a raffle for those vaccinated in this group every week where the first 10 winners get a full four-year scholarship and room & board to a state school.
Locally, according to statistics from New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 59% of all adults in the city are vaccinated. Overall, 49% of the city is vaccinated. But the aforementioned seven neighborhoods could present an issue for the city.
The city announced last month that schools would reopen fully in the fall, with no remote learning. While the city will adhere to the Center for Disease Controls direction to keep desks apart by three feet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he anticipates that those will change as more people are vaccinated.
But with the combination of low vaccination rates and neighborhoods with a significant number of asthma cases (Brownsville, a member of the unfortunate seven, has reportedly the highest adult asthma rates in the city according to data collected by Localize.city), what does this all mean for schools in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates?
According to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), nothing. The children should be back in school in September.
“There are a relatively small number of medically fragile children who may still need a remote program, but they will be the exception,” UFT Spokesperson Alison Gendar said in an email to the AmNews. “We continue our work to give easy vaccine access to adults––educators and parents––who want it. And this month we joined the city’s efforts to help parents have easy access if they want their eligible children vaccinated.”
AmNews’ requests for comment were ignored by City Hall.
“Zip codes are relatively small, so you can really get in there and focus an intensive effort,” said Cuomo last week. “And I want local governments to pay attention to these zip codes. Get in there, go door to door, go to churches, go to social events, go to community events. These are the places where we have to target to get that vaccination rate up.”
Gendar told the AmNews that even in neighborhood with low vaccination rates, the children are alright.
“Even in the communities that you highlighted (with lower than average vaccination rates), the positivity rates in the schools in those neighborhoods is still below the city’s seven day positivity rate (which was .53% today),” stated Gendar.
“The low positivity rate in schools was helped in part by rigorous, uniform health and safety protocols,” Gendar continued. “The city’s medical experts, and our own, will be monitoring both the vaccination rates and the positivity rates over the summer and adapt accordingly.”
The state government began downscaling mass vaccinations including those in Corning, Oneonta, Potsdam, and York College in Queens. With the state pulling back, Cuomo said that local governments in low vaccinated areas need to get on the ball.
The governor said “We are going to post this so all the local governments know this, these are the target areas. You want to increase the vaccination rate, go to the lowest performing areas in the state and get them up. And you see they’re all across the state of New York, but this is where local governments should be focusing to make a difference.”
De Blasio has done his part. He’s opened new vaccination sites at places like the Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building and, most recently, Luna Park in Coney Island. He told reporters this week that the city’s ready to get back to the way things used to be. According to the mayor, the recovery is here.
“Now, to keep fuel doing our recovery of course, vaccination continues to be the key, but we also love that we’re seeing more and more activity out in the streets, more and more tourism, more and more jobs coming back,” stated the mayor. “Recovery is going to help us in so many ways. To ensure recovery we have to keep acting on public safety, but as I always say, public safety equals recovery.”