New York has formed a task force to ensure fairness and equity in COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday. The “Vaccine Equity Task Force” will work to “break down barriers to vaccination & ensure a fair distribution,” Cuomo said on Twitter.
“NYers must have trust, confidence & access to the vaccine,” he added.
The task force will be co-chaired by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, New York Attorney General Letitia James, President and CEO of National Urban League Marc Morial and President and CEO of Healthfirst Inc. Pat Wang.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has previously called on health authorities to work to combat vaccine hesitancy and ensure equitable distribution in minority communities.
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“Having a vaccine is only the first step,” Adams said, during an event in which George Washington Hospital administered the Pfizer vaccine to health care workers. “We must now move from vaccines to vaccinations. And it would be a great tragedy if disparities actually worsened because the people who would most benefit from this vaccine won’t take it.”
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Adams said “lack of trust” in communities of color is a driving force behind hesitancy, and to combat it we must “first acknowledge this real history of mistreatment and exploitation of minorities by the medical community and the government. Then we need to explain and demonstrate all that has been done to address these wrongs.”
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New York received an initial supply to provide 170,000 New Yorkers with the vaccine, and is expected to get more through the end of the month. The state has prioritized high-risk hospital workers, nursing home residents and nursing home staff to be the first to receive the job, with all long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers and other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners to follow.
There is a separate COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force in New York that is meant to ensure the vaccines are safe, advise on best clinical practices and ensure there are no barriers or delays in vaccine availability.