NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A multi-pronged effort involving the White House, New York and New Jersey political leaders, and members of the faith community has begun to breach the racial divide in vaccine distribution in our region.
The Rev. Joe Carter of New Hope Baptist Church in Newark was one of a number of Black leaders baring their arms for the COVID-19 vaccine, hoping to demonstrate to members of their community that if they can overcome their own skepticism and distrust, the public can, too.READ MORE: COVID In New Jersey: Careful Planning Has Helped Essex County Vaccination Site Become Highly Efficient
“I’m not here just for me; I’m here for those who are watching me and influenced by me. God forbid I let my personal issue keep somebody from making a choice that could very well save their lives,” Carter told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer on Wednesday.
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Members of the Newark faith community have formed a partnership with Essex County executives to roll up their sleeves and get the shot. The county has had the most COVID deaths in New Jersey — 55% in the Black and brown community.
“We have to touch everyone from one end of the county to the other end of the county,” Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo Jr. said.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his own partnership with the federal government to open two mass vaccination sites in New York City communities of color. One will be at York College in Jamaica, Queens, the other at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Both will have the capacity to vaccinate 15,000 people a week, double the capacity of sites already up at the Javits Center and Yankee Stadium.
The big news is that the federal government will supply the vaccine — over and above New York’s regular allotment.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine: Citi Field Mega-Site Opens For Queens Residents, TLC Drivers And Food Workers
“These new centers will focus on serving the hardest-hit, hardest-to-reach populations and, working with Gov. Cuomo, we will have additional locations throughout the state to get more shots in arms,” White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients said.
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Also joining Cuomo was Derrick Johnson of the NAACP, Marc Morial of the Urban League and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Each urged minority communities to overcome government distrust.
“Many in the African-American community don’t trust the vaccine because of past abuses,” Sharpton said. “But this vaccine is different and we’ve got to get out there and say it. Everyone should take it when it’s their turn.”
Sharpton said he intends to go to one of the new vaccination sites and get a shot as a symbol to others. The governor was appreciative.
“Your voice, the ministers’ voices, I think are very important here,” Cuomo said.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine: Historic Abyssinian Baptist Becomes First Church In New York City To Administer Shots
The new mass vaccination sites will be in addition to those currently being held at public housing sites and churches in the minority community.