To help expedite COVID-19 vaccination efforts in a borough where the positivity rate is the highest in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that Yankee Stadium will be a mass vaccination site exclusively for Bronx residents.
With a positivity rate at 7.06% as of Friday, The Bronx’s rate is higher than the city average of 5.27% and more than twice Manhattan’s 3.47%.
Meanwhile, the positivity rate as of Friday within 10 Bronx Zip codes immediately around Yankee Stadium have a positivity rate of 10.32%.
Cuomo stated that this will be a joint venture between the city and state with the National Guard constructing and administering the site and SOMOS Community Care will operate it.
When this will all happen is still unknown.
It’s hoped that utilizing the stadium as a mass vaccination site will help slow the spread of the virus but in order for that to actually happen, we not only need a greater increase in supply of the vaccines but we’ll also need people to step up to the plate and get inoculated.
Right now, according to a recent survey, 8% of Bronx residents say they will not take the vaccine with an additional 14% unsure if they’ll take the vaccine.
A lot of these negative sentiments towards receiving the COVID-19 vaccines are a result of either lack of information or misinformation regarding their safety and efficacy.
For example, many Latino and Asian responders to the survey are concerned about the cost of the vaccine, however, the vaccine is free and will be provided at no cost to everyone.
A whopping 49% of Bronx residents are concerned about side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, currently the only two approved for use in the United States, shaping their decision on whether or not they’ll get vaccinated.
As per the Centers for Disease Control, the most common side effects from the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are:
- In the arm where you got the shot:
- Throughout the rest of your body:
- Tiredness (fatigue)
These side effects are similar to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as per information on the FDA’s website.
So while utilizing Yankee Stadium as a mass vaccination site in the fight against the pandemic, we must also do a lot more work to win the trust of our communities and work to understand why Blacks and Latinos may be more hesitant of the vaccine and distrustful.
After all, it was in this country that for 40 years until 1972, the Tuskegee Study was conducted where Black men were used to study the effects of untreated syphilis however none of the men in the study were even told of their diagnosis let alone received any treatment.
And within the Puerto Rican community, many families still remember the traumas of the US government’s forced sterilization program on the island of Puerto Rico where by 1965 a third of women were sterilized.
Although separate events and thousands of miles apart, they intersect within the Black and Latino communities of The Bronx so there should be little surprise as to why there is such mistrust.
A lot of damage has been done and although we’re no longer a society that is doing such things to its people, we have a long road in repairing that trust but it must be approached with a sensitivity to why people feel how they do about getting vaccinated and providing folks with as much education and information on the vaccines as is available.
It’s the only way forward and out of this pandemic.