New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, received a coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday afternoon at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, as New York City health officials try to address a stark racial disparity in its vaccine rollout.
Ms. McCray, who is 66, meets the state’s current age requirement that allows New Yorkers older than 65 years of age to get the vaccine. Her husband, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is 59, does not.
So far, Black and Latino residents have received far fewer doses of a vaccine than white residents, even though communities of color have been hit hardest by the virus. The city’s demographic data is incomplete but the most recent data available shows that of nearly 375,000 city residents who received one dose of a vaccine and whose race was recorded, about 46 percent were white, 16 percent were Latino, 16 percent were Asian and 12 percent were Black.
Latino and Black residents were particularly underrepresented: The city’s population is roughly 29 percent Latino and 24 percent Black.
The city’s health department has made a push to encourage Black and Latino New Yorkers to get vaccinated when they are eligible, hoping to address vaccine hesitancy, in light of the history of unethical medical research in the United States. But Mr. de Blasio said last week that he and his wife, who is Black, would not receive the vaccine until they met state eligibility criteria, citing a desire to reassure New Yorkers that the process was fair and equitable.
“People need to see that folks they know, folks they trust and respect are getting the vaccine,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference. “They also need to know that the priorities are being respected and those who need it most are getting it first.”
After receiving her shot, Ms. McCray encouraged eligible New Yorker to sign up for vaccine appointments — though access to those appointments, which are listed on dozens of disparate websites, has been one of the barriers to the equitable distribution of the vaccine.
“There really is nothing to be afraid of,” Ms. McCray said of being vaccinated. “We want to do this for our families, we want to do this for our loved ones, and of course we want to do it for our city.”
As of Tuesday, New York City had administered more than a million doses of vaccine. Mr. de Blasio had hoped to provide that many doses in January alone but has blamed a lack of supply for the slower pace.