Nassau Aims for Vaccine Equity By Partnering with MSK Cancer Center

covid-19 vaccine
Registered pharmacist fills a dead volume syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in William Reid Apartments in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S., January 23, 2021. Mary Altaffer/Pool via REUTERS

The Nassau County Department of Health and Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center are partnering to host several pop-up Covid-19 vaccination events in the month of March, County Executive Laura Curran announced on Wednesday.

Standing outside MSK’s Uniondale facility where the vaccination program will take place, Curran explained that the new partnership aims to get vaccines into the arms of minorities who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“Our county is committed to ensuring an equitable vaccine distribution,” she said. “… By teaming up with community providers and reaching out through trusted messengers like houses of worship, community leaders, and elected officials, our vaccination efforts are reaching all communities in Nassau.”

The program will begin on Thursday administering 100 first-doses of the Moderna shot. It will continue on March 16, 18, and 23. The Nassau Vaccine Equity Group, composed of county health and human services officials, has already pre-registered residents who were selected in coordination with local community groups and other stakeholders, Curran said.

More than 400 people will be vaccinated through the program. In addition, the program aims to educate communities of color, who may be hesitant to take the vaccine, about its safety.

“We have some great scientists and physicians and caregivers at Sloan Kettering who are already doing outreach in the community to answer questions,” said Dr. Carol Brown, of MSK, “so that people can make an informed decision about getting the vaccine.”

Curran and Brown added that the MSK partnership will extend beyond Covid-19 vaccinations to cancer screenings and education in communities of color, since health inequities are present in terms of cancer diagnosises as well.

“We know we have health disparities based on socioeconomic and racial lines in Nassau County,” she said. “We got the best hospital systems in the world, we’ve got the best medical care in the world, but unfortunately we also have glaring health disparities, and we are focused on targeting those and closing the gap, making access equal and easy for everybody.”

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