The state’s massive vaccination hubs in New York City should be shut down — so that more community-based sites can be developed to address the dismal disparity in immunization rates, a city councilman argued Sunday.
Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan), who chairs the council’s Health Committee, told The Post on Sunday that his office last week asked the state to consider the move in an effort to bolster lagging vaccination rates in lower-income sections of the Big Apple.
While state-run hubs such as the Javits Center in Manhattan and the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens “played just an absolutely critical role” earlier in the pandemic, vaccination statistics show the effort needs to pivot, Levine said.
“Right now, we can’t just sit back and wait for people to come to us. We need to take vaccinations to people where they are,” said Levine, who is also running for Manhattan borough president.
“And there are collectively probably several thousand staff in all the mass vaccination hubs in the city, and they should be deployed.”
Levine added in a tweet, “53% of adults in NYC are fully vaccinated.”
“But that # is a citywide average that hides big variations by neighborhood. 19 zip codes are at 70% or more. (mostly wealthy neighbs). 27 zip codes are at 40% or less. (mostly low-income communities of color)
“We can’t ignore this.”
“To close NYC’s vaccine equity gap, it’s time to shut down the mass vax sites (Javits etc) and redeploy the staff to under-vax’d neighborhoods,” Levine said in another tweet.
“We need more outreach on the ground. We need more vaccination offered in community centers, houses of worship, door to door. Everywhere.”
City data shows that while some Big Apple neighborhoods — including Tribeca, Lennox Hill, Midtown and the Financial District in Manhattan — have seen more than 80 pe rcent of residents receive at least one dose, others lag far behind.
In Far Rockaway, Queens, only 30.7 percent of residents have received at least one dose. In Brooklyn, Borough Park, Canarsie and Brownsville are all below 35 percent, the data shows.
Levine said his office requested a breakdown from the state on the number of vaccinations being doled out at its largest city hubs but has yet to receive one.
Security guards at the Javits Center told The Post on Sunday that the pace of vaccinations at the site has been gradually declining.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had hailed the opening of massive immunization sites such as those at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens in February as “bringing social equity to the situation.”
But a group of clergymen and minority activists ripped the governor earlier this month for using them as “political props” to urge community members to get immunized — while not utilizing their facilities as long-term vax hubs.
A state Health Department spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement, “New York State continues to administer vaccines as quickly and equitably as possible, utilizing a vast network of providers statewide in addition to our mass vaccination sites.
“Increased efforts to bring shots to local and hard to reach communities include the establishment of over 200 community-based pop-up sites; direct partnerships with houses of worship; five pop-up sites with walk-in appointments for New York City bodega, grocery store, and supermarket workers; and eight new pop-up sites at MTA stations.
“To date, nearly 19 million vaccines have been administered statewide – meaning 53.5% of New Yorkers (and 65% of adults) are at least partially vaccinated, and over 45% (and more than 56% of adults) are fully vaccinated.
“We will continue to do everything possible to make shots available to those who want them.”
Additional reporting by Reuven Fenton