Mayor Eric Adams’ health team is launching a $4 million “vaccine equity” campaign aimed at curbing infections and deaths from the latest coronavirus strains and the flu, predominantly in the city’s poorer communities.
The Health Department funding will provide grants to 18 not-for-profit groups to expand vaccine coverage in two dozen mostly minority neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates.
“Funding will also be used to raise awareness of long COVID and the impact it can have on individuals’ health and wellbeing,” says the bid proposal put out by the department’s fundraising arm — the Fund for Public Health.
The communities targeted in the Adams administration’s multi-million dollar Building Resiliency and Vaccine Equity outreach campaign include:
The NYC Public Health Corps (PHC) and Health+Hospitals are also involved in the effort to keep down infection rates post-pandemic.
“Research has shown that reducing barriers to vaccination in communities of color is critical to reducing disparities in disease impact and decreasing COVID-19–related illness,” the request for proposals from bidders says.
“COVID-19 vaccines continue to offer protection for millions of vaccinated New Yorkers, however, lower vaccination rates among certain groups leave them at increased risk for adverse health outcomes (i.e., Long Covid), particularly as new variants emerge.
“The NYC Health Department remains committed to fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.”
The city is looking to bridge the “vaccine inequity gap” in neighborhoods designated by the Mayor’s Taskforce for Racial Inclusion as those most impacted by COVID-19 and a large proportion of other health disparities. The task force started under former Mayor Bill de Blasio — who was at the helm during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 — and continues under Adams.
As of August, 81% of residents citywide completed a COVID-19 primary vaccination series compared to 78% of residents in the targeted zip codes.
The Health Department is expected to award contracts by Jan. 3, 2024. Selected community and faith-based organizations would conduct vaccine outreach through June, with the possibility of an extension.
Additional points in the contract review will be awarded to bidders who are minority-led organizations.
The Health Department will provide contractors with training and guidance on chronic disease prevention and management to root out causes of health inequities.
Contractors must submit a data management plan and provide monthly updates to the department on community outreach and engagement strategies and meet benchmarks to receive full funding/reimbursement, according to the plan.
Health officials last year also focused on boosting vaccination rates in the heavily orthodox Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn as well as mostly white neighborhoods of Staten Island that had lower vaccination rates and fewer test sites when the Omicron wave of COVID-19 flared up in the city in late 2021, including Borough Park, Midwood, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Williamsburg and Crown Heights.
More than 81,000 deaths in New York State have been linked to COVID-19.