‘Supercharged vaccine’ program will bring more shots to underserved communities

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — A lot more vaccines are on the way to New York Sen. Charles Schumer announced on Thursday, and they’ll be focused for distribution by community health centers in neighborhoods where the need is greatest and access to vaccines is lowest.  

But there was no evidence that the senator, or the federal government, had yet informed the community health centers.  

The announcement, dubbed the “vaccine supercharge” by Sen. Schumer, came during the daily coronavirus briefing hosted by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday morning.  

“There are going to be more vaccines and better access to vaccine sites,” said Schumer, who, as the senate majority leader, is the fourth most powerful person in the U.S. government and is New York’s most powerful elected official.  

He said that the measure is being funded through a $32 billion vaccination initiative that he was able to secure as part of the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus package.

“[We] will utilize New York’s community health centers as federally-funded vaccine sites,” Schumer said.

However, none of the community health centers that PIX11 News contacted about the “vaccine supercharge” program seemed to know that they were part of it, or even being considered.

Sen. Schumer’s own press release lists 33 community health centers, or CHCs, statewide as being “supercharged vaccine” participants.

Settlement Health in East Harlem is on the list. The community health center on East 106th Street provides vital services to the community, including coronavirus vaccinations.  However, organizers there only found out that they were part of the “supercharged” program when PIX11 News showed them the list of providers.

Similarly, every other community health center that PIX11 News contacted had apparently not yet gotten word that they were eligible to receive increased federal funding and vaccine supply. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Schumer’s press release indicated just how new the “supercharged” funding is.

“As this information is breaking,” the release read, “a list of all the CHCs in New York that are eligible is forthcoming.”  

It went on to say that “all the CHC sites are eligible to become vaccine administration sites, but must elect to participate in the program and receive the vaccines from New York’s Community Health Center parent organizations, who will determine which sites will get vaccines.”

“The vaccines these health centers receive will be sent directly from the federal government to the CHCs and be in addition to the weekly vaccine allocation sent to New York State,” the release continues, “… exact allocation numbers will be announced in the coming days as CHCs across the state formally agree to participate in the program.”

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio said that while he was pleased with a growing supply of vaccine from the federal government, he wants more information about federal vaccine supply generally. He said he was getting “not enough detail.” 

“What I want from the federal government,” de Blasio continued, “is a week-by-week specific chart that shows a steady increase.”

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