Mayor Acknowledges that Boro Park’s Lower-than-Average-Age Factors into State’s Inaccurate Vaccination Rates

By Yehudit Garmaise

     Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants 70% of the state's adult population vaccinated before he relaxes COVID restrictions, however, on Monday, he released a misleading chart of the 25 ZIP codes with the lowest vaccination rates, which included Boro Park, Monsey, Monroe, Far Rockaway, Williamsburg, and Crown Heights.

     The reason the chart was misleading is that instead of separating out 12 to 18 year-olds, who much more recently became eligible for vaccination, to determine the vaccination rates of adults, New York state's Department of Health combined the all of the eligible age groups, which particularly misrepresents Chassidic neighborhoods, which have larger-than-average populations of 12 to 18 year-olds.

     In addition, fewer teenagers in the general population are vaccinated because statistics show that 12 to 18 year-olds are much less likely to seek out their shots than older adults, who were much more vulnerable during COVID.

     New York City Health Department data does separates out the under 18 age group to provide more accurate vaccination rates of Chassidic communities, such as Boro Park, for whom the younger group comprises 60% of the population, as compared with the rest of New York City, whose under 18 age group is only 20% of the population.

    By not considering the average ages of different communities, the state's calculations significantly lower Gov. Cuomo's and others' perception of Chassidic communities' vaccination rates.

     For instance, the state measured Boro Park’s vaccination rate last month at 33.8%, while the city reported that 50% of Boro Park’s 18 and over group was vaccinated.

     City data shows, in fact, that instead of a vaccination rate that is among the 25 lowest in the state, Boro Park’s vaccination rate mirrors the 52% rate of adult whites who were vaccinated and exceeded the 47% rate of Latino adults the 35% of African American adults of got their shots.

      Providing inaccurate vaccination data about Boro Park and other Chassidic Jewish communities leads to unfair representations of Jewish communities, which sometimes leads to false accusations in the press and from elected officials.

      In addition, as Gov. Cuomo is using this data to determine where the state most needs to focus its resources to vaccinate 70% of the New York, the state's inaccurate data could take the focus off other neighborhoods that are truly more in need of greater vaccination resources.

      This morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that the state's grouping of all ages together to determine vaccination rates resulted in inaccurate reporting because of the widely variable average ages of different communities.       

       Mitch Katz, MD, the CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, said that he would provide the input about inaccurate reporting of vaccination rates to the state.

      “I agree measuring vaccinations as a percentage of the population is deceptive in any part of the city where the number of children is much larger, and we know that is true of the Chassidic population,” said Dr. Katz, as he responded to BoroPark24’s question. “I think the way the city reports its data is better and more representative of what’s going on in the Orthodox Chassidic community.

     “We can certainly give that feedback back to the state that focusing on the group that are adults and separately looking at the group of younger people, for whom there was just recent approval makes sense to me.”

     “We have gotten a lot of cooperation and great teamwork in the Orthodox community from community institutions, from community leaders, first with testing, now with vaccination,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We want to reach everyone, obviously.

     “We are constantly looking for the adjustments we have to make to reach places where the rate is lower, but the goal is to keep reaching every community until we have gotten every single person who is willing to be vaccinated.”

Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

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