Cuomo Encourages Houses of Worship to Volunteer to Serve as Pop-Up Vaccination Sites in Local Communities
By Yehudit Garmaise
In anticipation of a large increase in the supply of the newly FDA-approved, one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is expected to arrive in late March, New York state is working to increase its vaccine distribution capacity, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this afternoon.
In addition to opening 10 new mass vaccination sites, the governor announced an innovative idea to better reach people who may not want to leave their neighborhoods to get vaccinated by making houses of worship into “pop-up vaccination sites.”
“We are reaching out to houses of worship to partner with us,” said the governor. “We encourage houses of worship to come forward to do that.”
When some in Jewish communities have pointed out that “vaccination pods” or smaller sites within neighborhoods would be preferable to trudging to hard-to-reach mass vaccination sites, on a conference call with members of the Jewish media a few weeks ago, Dave A. Chokshi, MD, the city’s health commissioner, and Mitch Katz, MD, the CEO of Health + Hospitals suggested that rolling out the idea was in the works.
Many in the community are hoping that Gov. Cuomo’s call to houses to worship to serve as pop-up vaccination sites will correct his previous usage of churches, but not shuls, as COVID-19 testing sites.
Gov. Cuomo seems to want to offer pop-up vaccination sites in houses of worship to address the racial disparity in New Yorkers’ access to healthcare, “We still have a racial disparity,” said the governor, who has many times pointed out that twice as many Black people died from COVID than did Whites. More than one and a half Hispanic have died from COVID than did Whites. “I don’t think any state is working harder at bringing down that racial disparity, but it still exists.”
Gov. Cuomo also suggests that pop-up vaccination sites in houses of worship could help people to overcome their “vaccine hesitancy,” as they see their religious leaders and other congregants get vaccinated safely and effectively.
(Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)