NYC Department of Health ensures COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all, regardless of immigrant status
Efforts are underway to make sure every New Yorker can get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially immigrant and undocumented communities who were hit the hardest.
Rebecca Telzak, director off health programs at Make the Road New York, says while there is a collective sigh of relief among the immigrant community, there are a lot of questions.
"You know, many are relieved that finally there's a vaccine, that finally there's a way through this," she says. "It is really important for the city and state to partner with community organizations to do this education outreach work that's needed in this moment."
Like at the beginning of the pandemic in regard to access to testing, it's the same concern now with the vaccines, that every New Yorker, regardless of neighborhood or immigration status, should be able to get it.
That's what the Department of Health says it's working on right now – how to get the free vaccines to everyone in the city.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would not require states to share personal individual data, like Social Security numbers or driver's license numbers, when distributing the vaccine.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is also pushing to make sure undocumented New Yorkers wouldn't fear getting the vaccine.
The majority of New Yorkers will be able to get the vaccine this spring or summer. In the meantime, the Department of Health and Make the Road New York agree that education outreach in a multitude of languages and accessibility will be key to getting immigrant New Yorkers vaccinated.
While health care workers, nursing home staff and residents continue to get their shots first, Telzak says there needs to be clarity about the front-line essential workers who are said to be next in line.
"We really want to make sure that includes delivery workers, cleaning workers who are the majority of who've been doing in person work while this pandemic has been going on," she says.