Published On: May 20, 202124.4 min read537 words

Trying to Reach Unvaccinated New Yorkers


Between December and April, the pace of vaccinations in New York City was on the upswing, with new daily records in doses administered set week after week. But the past few weeks have shown the opposite: a downward trend.

Part of that is because of the success of the vaccination campaign. In the city, 59 percent of adults have received one dose, compared with 48 percent nationwide. Pandemic restrictions are largely being lifted in New York as positivity rates and hospitalizations drop. Still, the slowing pace also reflects dwindling demand, as groups of people across the city choose not to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, or have trouble getting doses. The city is now stepping its outreach to reach those groups, particularly in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods. [The city is turning to door-to-door outreach to overcome vaccine skepticism.]

The breakdown

Black and Hispanic New Yorkers are getting vaccinated at significantly lower rates than other groups. Citywide, only 33 percent of Black adults have gotten a vaccine dose. For Hispanic adults, the rate is 42 percent. About 51 percent of white adults have received at least one dose, and 73 percent of Asian adults have gotten a dose.

New York City public health officials are urging community groups to start knocking on doors to reach unvaccinated people individually. The city has also hired companies to promote vaccination on street corners in largely in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Editors’ Picks The reasons

The racial disparities are partly the result of differing levels of access, with more robust health care and vaccine distribution in some neighborhoods than others. Mayor Bill de Blasio has noted that another thing holding people back is convenience — it’s just not easy enough yet for everyone to get vaccinated.

But skepticism about vaccine safety is a significant factor contributing to hesitancy, interviews showed.

Anthony Lopez, 41, who lives in Jamaica, Queens, where the vaccination rate has hovered around 40 percent, said he did not plan to get vaccinated anytime soon.

“I’ll definitely be waiting until more people take it, and they’ll probably make some changes to it,” he said, “and maybe I’ll be able to make a better decision in a couple of years — not now, though.”

The outreach

City officials began a campaign last week encouraging doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers in parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn to recommend vaccination to patients. The city has also said it would give up to $9 million to community organizations to promote vaccine awareness. The city has also deployed vaccination buses to neighborhoods.

Some of the outreach involves knocking on doors.

Tomas Ramos, a community organizer with the Bronx Rising Initiative, and two colleagues recently knocked on every door in the Webster Houses, a public-housing project, asking about vaccinations.

Sometimes people said through closed doors that they would not get vaccinated. On the 13th floor, Biency Paulino answered the door, saying her family had not left the apartment for two and a half months because of Covid-19. Still, she explained, they were unlikely to get vaccinated. It was up to God whether or not she got Covid-19, she said, and whether or not she died.

By Mihir Zaveri


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