A multi-faceted campaign involving organizations across the community and local, state and federal government has mobilized with one goal in mind: getting as many Black and Latino residents as possible vaccinated at Rochester’s new Kodak Hawkeye vaccine site on St. Paul St.
Opening on March 3, the FEMA and state run facility expects to deliver 28,000 vaccines during the month of March. Through March 3, all of those appointments were reserved for residents from ZIP codes 14603, 14604, 14605, 14606, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14614, 14615, 14619, 14621, areas that have high concentrations of people of color. After March 3, appointments were opened for more ZIP codes. Appointments can be booked through New York’s “Am I Eligible” website, by calling 3-1-1 or the New York COVID Hotline at: 1-833-697-4829.
“Black and Latino Rochesterians and residents from disadvantaged neighborhoods do not have the tools, time and transportation needed to navigate the vaccine systems that have been created,” said Wade S. Norwood, co-chair of the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force and CEO of Common Ground Health.
The result has been that Black and Brown residents – populations that have suffered the most from COVID-19 infections and deaths – have not been able to access the vaccine at the same rate as their White neighbors.
“I am humbled and heartened to see the hundreds of volunteers and dozens of community leaders who have stepped forward to close this gap,” said Norwood. “They are making phone calls, going door to door, staffing resource centers, mailing out postcard, organizing text and email blasts, offering transportation, and more. With these efforts, those who have been at the back of the line for vaccines, will finally be first in line at the St. Paul site.”
“We are so grateful to receive these additional doses in our community and for them to be available to our most hard-hit communities,” said Dr. Nana Bennett, co-chair of the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. “We must continue these, and many other, extraordinary efforts to ensure equity in vaccine distribution.”
Community efforts to quickly fill appointments at the FEMA/New York state clinic include:
- Door to door appeals. Canvassers are being organized by county and state elected officials, advocacy groups and local non-profits, including Community Health Workers Association of Rochester, the City of Rochester’s REAL Rapid Response Team, the Black Agenda Group and La Cumbre. Volunteers will visit homes in city neighborhoods with older populations and the highest needs. They can help residents register on the spot or let folks know about the St. Paul site and leave sign up information.
- 311 will help sign up as many callers as they can, using an additional room of volunteers to support the effort.
- Hospitals and clinics are reaching out to their eligible patients to inform them of this opportunity through MyChart, email and phone.
- Robo calls. Rochester City School District, Interdenominational Health Ministry Coalition and Monroe County are making robo calls to let people know about the new site.
- R-Centers and Libraries are going to serve as registration stations. People can register themselves there with guided support, or get one-on-one assistance from staff until they are enrolled. Staff will also support callers to these sites as 311 will transfer callers to these locations directly to reduce waiting time and burden.
- Telephone outreach: Numerous community based organizations have volunteered to call the people they serve and support them with scheduling.
- Dual language postcards. The Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force is sending out 82,000+ postcards to all homes in the 12 ZIP codes with information in English and Spanish.
- Transportation. 211 is putting together a list of all transportation support options and information for people assisting with appointment scheduling.
- RTS will waive fares on all trips from the Transit Center to the St. Paul site from March 3 through May 3.