Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer expressed deep concerns about the Mayor’s vaccine distribution operations and called on him to adopt her common-sense recommendations.
Including the appointment of a vaccine czar, a unified appointment system with 311 integration, the use of the taxi and limousine food delivery system created during the pandemic to deliver seniors to vaccine appointments, and the immediate release of plans for New Yorkers in congregate settings (such as group homes, homeless shelters, and medical facilities).
“We have had 8 months’ notice to prepare for this moment, and I am sad to say that we are failing,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Operation Warp Speed was announced to the nation on May 15, 2020, with the goal of 300 million doses by January 2021. The city’s Department of Health has experience with mass vaccine distribution as recently as 2009, when they opened 58 points of dispensing (PODs) to provide H1N1 vaccines to 50,000 New Yorkers across 5 boroughs, opening up to seven sites each day. As recently as 2019, New York officials were rehearsing for mass vaccinations in tabletop exercises with the federal government called—rather unfortunately—Crimson Contagion, depicting a novel influenza virus originating from China. There’s no reason for us to not be more ready than we are and we need to implement the common-sense recommendations I am calling for.”
Brewer found that the City’s telephone hotline was not only separate from 311 but also only offered services in English and Spanish even though at least 100 languages are spoken in the NYC public school system.
Brewer recommended that City employees and volunteers be trained to help the public locate sites and register for appointments, similar to what many are already doing now for their parents and family members unable to use the city’s broken vaccine registration system.
“A city government with dozens of task forces and working groups focused on equity must understand that accountability is at the core of equity, and a vaccine distribution operation that is decentralized and dispersed will leave our most vulnerable behind,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “That includes communities of color in Inwood, senior citizens in Roosevelt Island, foster care and rehabilitation employees and residents in group homes, and eligible New Yorkers who have poor internet access or technological literacy.”