COVID-19 vaccine (306664)
Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

As of Monday, July 19, over 4.5 million (53%) New Yorkers are fully vaccinated from COVID-19 while several zip codes continue seeing fully vaccinated rates of just above 30%.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the five neighborhoods with the lowest vaccine numbers are in Brooklyn and Queens. Edgemere/Far Rockaway in Queens has the city’s lowest rate with only 33% of residents in the neighborhood being fully vaccinated and 37% getting their first dose.

Other neighborhoods still struggling with low vaccination rates include Bed-Stuy, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Canarsie and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, all seeing a fully vaccinated rate hovering at 35%. The Bronx has the lowest vaccination rate of all five boroughs at 44%.

As the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to take hold, local leaders and health officials are in a race to get more people vaccinated. Nearly 70% of new COVID cases in the city are linked to the Delta variant. Almost all those going to the hospital with COVID and suffering severe illness are unvaccinated.

“The Delta variant is concerning as we’ve talked about in previous days and weeks,” said Health Department Commissioner David Chokshi. “Now it makes up about 69% of the cases that we’re sequencing. But our concern is primarily for people who remain unvaccinated, which is why the single most important thing that we can do to keep individuals as well as our communities, our city safe, is to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

A Kaiser Health report shows that 25% of young adults, ages 18-29, and 24% of Black adults were most likely to fall into the “wait and see” group when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, experiencing higher rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week that he wouldn’t reinstate a mask mandate similar to Los Angeles and several other California counties. He says getting more people vaccinated is the best defense.

On Wednesday, de Blasio announced that all Health + Hospital staff and clinical workers in the City’s Health Department must get vaccinated or take a weekly COVID-19 test starting Aug. 2. Workers who don’t comply face suspension without pay.

“I honestly think we would be doing a disservice if instead of saying let’s address the actual problem, and we do believe there’s other ways we can do that, and we’ll talk about let’s address the problem by getting more people vaccinated and going right at it and knocking down this variant,” de Blasio said. “A mask doesn’t arrest the progress of the variant, vaccination does.”

This week, vaccine sites closed across the state in favor of a different strategy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state plans to focus resources in areas where the vaccination rate is lower than the statewide average. The mass vaccination site at the Javits Center in Manhattan closed earlier this month.

“As our vaccination efforts continue across the state, we are continuing to target communities that have lower vaccination rates and using every tool at our disposal to make the vaccine accessible to every New Yorker,” Cuomo said. “In line with this strategy, the downscaling of our mass vaccination sites is proceeding as planned and we are shifting resources to where they are most needed, so we can get more shots into people’s arms and defeat this virus once and for all.”