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Black Leaders Start Task Force in New York to Improve COVID Vaccine Delivery Equity and Education

Concerned that America is currently ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deliver any of the COVID-19 vaccines to Black communities, Black leaders recently announced the creation of a task force in New York to both ensure the vaccine is readily accessible to Black New Yorkers and address concerns in Black communities about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.   

“The nonprofit community, as well as relevant stakeholders, will be part of this process. Our goal is to make this process and plan as comprehensive and useful as possible. Our goal here is to save lives," says Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA).    

“We chose New York for the Task Force because it went from being the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis to the nation’s leader in demonstrating how best to combat the pandemic. The foresight and fortitude shown by the state’s Governor and our non-profit community, who have been doing the work and out front on the issue of health care inequity, was just as critical then as it is now,” says Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.   

“The task force is going to push an aggressive campaign to spread the word about the importance of the vaccine. This information will be fact-based and reliable. It is imperative that the Black community and other communities of color have prioritized access to specifically address the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 virus has had on these communities. This initiative is an example of future efforts to address the gaps in medical care that the Black communities have endured for generations,” says Nina Turner, former Bernie Sanders presidential campaign cochair and Amare Public Affairs founder.   

“We plan to make this a national model for the country. We want to identify, with specificity, those NYCHA community rooms, churches, mosques, and other places our people go, so we don’t have to drive in a car we don’t have to go to a Walgreens that we don’t go to get a vaccine,” says Reverend Al Sharpton, president and founder of National Action Network (NAN).   

Steven M. Cohen, former Secretary to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who will serve as Counsel, also says, “There’s a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time. We believe this blueprint can also be utilized for other communities receiving inequitable vaccine delivery as well."

Task Force members include the following: 

  1. Danny Barber, Chair, Citywide Council of Presidents of NYCHA Tenants' Associations 
  2. Karen Boykin-Towns, Vice Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors 
  3. Kyle Bragg, President, SEIU 32BJ 
  4. Steve M. Cohen, Former Secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo 
  5. Hazel Dukes, President, NAACP New York State Conference 
  6. Dr. Debra Furr-Holden, Epidemiologist, Michigan State University 
  7. Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) 
  8. Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League 
  9. Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League 
  10. Dr. Wayne J. Riley, President, SUNY Downstate Medical Center 
  11. Rev. Al Sharpton, CEO and Founder, National Action Network (NAN) 
  12. Senator Nina Turner, Founder, Amare Public Affairs 

Source: Mercury LLC