Governor Cuomo Announces Additional Efforts to Expand Access to State-FEMA Vaccination Sites in Brooklyn and Queens
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced additional efforts to expand access to community-based vaccination sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens being established through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As part of this effort, the MTA will launch a pilot program to enhance bus service in Brooklyn and Queens to connect New Yorkersin these boroughs to the two vaccination sites. The state will also partner with faith leaders in Brooklyn and Queens to launch a vaccination drive aimed at encouraging more members of the leaders’ communities to sign up for vaccination appointments at these sites using phone banking. These new initiatives are part of New York State’s ongoing efforts to fight vaccine hesitancy and bring the vaccine to communities underserved by traditional health care institutions.
The community-based vaccination sites located in Brooklyn and Queens will begin vaccinations on Wednesday, February 24th and will operate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day with the capacity to administer 3,000 doses at each site every day. Eligible New Yorkers can currently schedule appointments for the Brooklyn and Queens sites by utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829). Appointments can also be made by visiting the sites beginning when they open on Wednesday. For the first week of scheduling, appointments at these two sites are initially reserved specifically for New Yorkers currently eligible for vaccination living in areas with low vaccination rates in counties and boroughs. After one week, appointments at each site will then be made available to all eligible residents of the site’s host borough.
“COVID exposed low tide in America – it revealed the unacceptable disparities and injustices that have plagued our society for decades – and New York is doing everything it can to reverse those trends in the vaccination process,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the partnership of the Biden Administration, New York has already established mass vaccination sites directly within hard hit communities in Brooklyn and Queens to ensure those areas have direct access to the vaccine. Now, we are taking that work a step further. Not only are we launching a pilot program with the MTA to provide enhanced bus services directly to these sites, but we are also partnering with local faith leaders to help connect New Yorkers with appointments and to dispel rumors and myths about the vaccine itself.”
While COVID-19 has had a damaging impact on the nation writ large, poor communities and communities of color have been particularly devastated by this virus, with Black and Latino people dying at a higher rate than white people. Since the beginning of the vaccine distribution process, another concerning trend has emerged – hesitancy towards the vaccine, especially in the Black community. With a large number of the essential workers coming from communities of color, these New Yorkers face an increased risk of contracting the virus simply due to the nature of their work. This has made it all the more important to not only continue working to instill confidence in the vaccine, but to also break down access barriers and ensure it is available directly within these communities.
To help address the issues of both vaccine hesitancy and accessibility, the MTA will enhance bus service from NYCHA and community centers in these boroughs to the State-FEMA vaccination sites in Brooklyn and Queens. More details on the enhanced routes will be released in the coming days as the MTA expects to add more stops and more dedicated service from community centers along select routes in Brooklyn and Queens. For example, In Queens the MTA will run a shuttle from Hammel Houses to York College. In Brooklyn, bus service will be enhanced with additional frequency on the existing B49 bus route, which already provides service to Medgar Evers.
New Yorkers can use the MTA’s trip planner at tripplanner.mta.info to plan their trip to get their shot. The enhanced routes will be loaded in the app beginning Monday, March 1.
Additionally, phone banking efforts led by faith leaders in these communities are underway to encourage more community members to sign up for appointments at these vaccination sites.
The following faith leaders will conduct vaccination drives:
- Bishop Dr. Ismael Claudio, Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ, Inc.
- The Reverend Adolphus C. Lacey, PhD, Bethany Baptist Church Brooklyn
- Pastor Festus Adeyeye, Abundant Life Christian Ministries, Worldwide
- Pastor Lawrence Aker, III Senior Pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church
- Bishop Steve Belgrove, President & Founder, Pastors Network of America
- Rev. A.R. Bernard, Founder, Senior Pastor and CEO, Christian Cultural Center
- Rev. David K. Brawley, Lead Pastor, St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church
- Reverend Larry Camp, Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church
- Pastor Steve Carter, Senior Pastor, Mount Ararat Church
- Rev. Alfred Cockfield II, Pastor, God’s Battalion of Prayer Church
- Reverend Dr. Kirkpatrick Cohall, Senior Pastor, Lenox Road Baptist Church
- Bishop Eric R. Figueroa, Sr., Founder & Presiding Prelate, New Life Covenant Fellowship
- Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship
- Rev. Dr. Charles O. Galbreath, Senior Pastor, Clarendon Road Churc
- Dr. Allen C. Martin, Clergyman, Northeastern Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist
- Pastor Paul B. Mitchell, Senior Pastor, Changing Lives Christian Center
- Bishop Michael Mitchell, New Life Tabernacle
- Pastor Gilford T. Monrose, Leader Pastor, Mt. Zion Church of God; Director, Founding President, 67th Precinct Clergy Council
- Reverend Rashad Raymond Moore, Third Pastor, First Baptist Church of Crown Heights
- Pastor Sam Nicols, Evangelical Crusaders Fisher of Men
- Pastor James Osa-kofi, Bethesda Healing Center
- Reverend Dr. Clive E. Neil, Pastor, Bedford Central Presbyterian Church
- Bishop Dr. R.C. Hugh Nelson, Senior Pastor, Church of God of East Flatbush
- Bishop Johnny Ray Youngblood, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church
- Pastor Louis Straker, Reflection Church of Brooklyn
- Reverend Dr. Gary V. Simpson, Leading Pastor, Concord Baptist Church of Christ
- Bishop Calvin Rice, New Jerusalem Worship Center
- Reverend Dr. Phil Craig, Pastor, Greater Springfield Community Church
- Pastor Floyd & Rev. Dr. Margaret Elaine M. Flake, Co-Pastor, Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral
- Reverend Dr. Craig Scott Brown Sr., Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church
- Reverend Evan D. Gray, Sr., Pastor Macedonia Baptist Church of Arverne
- Bishop H. Curtis Douglas, Senior Pastor, Dabar Bethelem Cathedral
- Pastor Omar Evans, Community Baptist Church
- Reverend Gilbert Pickett Sr., Pastor, Eastern Baptist Association of New York
- Pastor Norman Scott, Rising Star Baptist Church
- Pastor Duane Michael Sleet, First Baptist Church Far Rockaway
- Rev. Carl Wauchope, CORSMIA
- Apostle DK Williams, Christian Universal Temple of Corona
- Rev. Patrick Henry Young, First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst
This list will continue to grow as the state works to partner with additional faith leaders in these communities.
Patrick J. Foye, MTA Chairman and CEO said, “The MTA is doing everything we can to ensure vaccine equity by providing improved transit access from public housing and community centers to Medgar Evers College and York College. We want to make sure those who live in the ZIP codes with the lowest vaccination rates across the city have all the options possible to get to these sites.”
Sarah Feinberg, Interim President of MTA New York City Transit said, “To help ensure New Yorkers have as many options as possible to travel to get their shots, starting on March 1 we will enhance service on bus routes that provide service from the key ZIP codes to these special vaccination sites. We need to do everything we can to vaccinate New York. We encourage New Yorkers to use the MTA’s trip planner at mta.info to plan a trip to get vaccinated.”
In late 2020, the Governor announced the launch of New York’s Vaccine Equity Task Force chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang. Since its establishment, the Task Force has continued work to ensure vulnerable and underserved communities are not left behind by breaking down the barriers to vaccination and ensuring there is equitable distribution of the vaccine across the state.
Additionally, New York has established more than 104 temporary community-based ‘pop up’ vaccination sites at churches, community centers and public housing complexes directly within communities across the state which have been underserved by traditional health care systems. Since January 15, these sites have enabled approximately 45,000 New Yorkers to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose at these community-based pop up sites. After the administration of first doses, sites are then re-established three weeks later to administer second doses.
New York will continue to establish these pop-up sites until they have been placed at all 33 NYCHA Senior Housing Developments, which house more than 7,600 seniors. Pop-up locations will also continue to be established at other public housing complexes statewide, as well as at more than 300 churches and cultural centers which have volunteered to house these sites through Governor Cuomo’s Vaccine Equity Task Force.