New York first lady Chirlane McCray was given a Covid-19 vaccine at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon as New York health officials attempt to eradicate severe racial inequality in the introduction of the vaccine.
Ms. McCray, who is 66 years old, meets the state’s current age requirements that allow New Yorkers over 65 to receive the vaccine. Her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is 59 years old, does not.
So far, residents of Black and Latino have received far fewer doses of vaccine than residents of White, although color communities are hardest hit by the virus. The city’s demographics are incomplete, but the latest data available shows that of the nearly 375,000 city residents who received a vaccine dose and whose race was recorded, about 46 percent were white, 16 percent Latin American, 16 percent Asian, and 12 percent black.
Latino and Black residents were particularly underrepresented: the city’s population is 29 percent Latinos and 24 percent black.
The city health department has been working to encourage New Yorkers Black and Latino to get vaccinated in hopes of addressing vaccine hesitation, given the history of unethical medical research in the US. But Mr de Blasio said last week that he and his wife, who is black, would not receive the vaccine until they met state approval criteria, citing a desire to reassure New Yorkers that the process was fair and equitable .
“People need to see that people they know, trust and respect are getting the vaccine,” de Blasio said at a press conference. “You also need to know that priorities are respected and those who need them most get them first.”
Upon receiving her shot, a dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, Ms. McCray encouraged eligible New Yorkers to sign up for vaccine appointments – although access to those appointments, which are listed on dozens of different websites, one of the obstacles was the fair distribution of the vaccine .
“There’s really nothing to worry about,” Ms. McCray said of the vaccination. “We want to do this for our families, we want to do it for our loved ones, and of course we want to do it for our city.”
As of Tuesday, New York City had given more than a million doses of the vaccine. Mr de Blasio had hoped to give so many doses in January alone, but blamed a lack of supply for the slower pace.