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The Road to Vaccination: Leveraging Infrastructure for Vaccine Rollout

May 21, 2021

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to all New York residents who are aged 12 years and older. However, adolescents who are aged 12 through 15 years are currently only eligible for the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.People who live outside of the state but work or study in New York are also eligible to get vaccinated. Additionally, people who are eligible based on employment include both paid and unpaid workers.

Doses Administered in NYC (December 14, 2020 – May 20, 2021)

Verifying Tracers

Vaccine doses administered in New York City have continued on a steady incline since COVID-19 vaccines became available on December 2020. There have now been over seven million cumulative doses given as of May 20, 2021. To reach all New Yorkers, Test & Trace works with its partners across the City and in the community to increase this number.

Test & Trace and Vaccine Distribution

The Test & Trace Corps has a variety of existing resources that are available for vaccine distribution. Efforts are focused on eliminating any barriers to access and to increase vaccine confidence and demand.

The resources and tools at Test & Trace’s disposal include: community-based organizations (CBOs), call centers, government partners, communications, special events, paid media, and a large canvassing operation.

There is a multi-faceted approach taken when it comes to bolstering vaccine access. These include:

  • Ensuring that there is a vaccination site within walking distance for every New Yorker
  • Reviewing data to identify neighborhoods with gaps in vaccinations
  • Working with providers and clinicians to increase access and vaccine confidence
  • Taking a local approach to gather resources in communities experiencing gaps, and to provide vaccinations at a community-level

Test & Trace has infrastructure in place that is utilized for distribution. Pop-up COVID testing sites, Take Care program hotels, and contact tracers have the reach and interaction with the public. To ensure that New Yorkers know that vaccines are available, the goal is for every interaction with Test & Trace to create an environment in which a New Yorker can get vaccinated or make an appointment to get vaccinated.

Vaccinations at a Community-Level

Mass vaccination sites were a staple in the first push to get people vaccinated. Large-scale 24/7 vaccination sites are now available for walk-in vaccinations for all eligible ages. These sites have been pivotal in reaching as many people as fast as possible and have been successful in administering hundreds of thousands of doses, but the vaccine infrastructure continues to evolve to meet the need.

Now, Test & Trace is leveraging resources for a mobile vaccination capacity. Mobile vaccination is defined as a term to describe different kinds of initiatives to bring vaccination services to communities on a focused, small scale. This tactic allows for shorter events such as single-day events, outdoor sidewalk events with easier logistics, and a more targeted approach.

Mobile vaccination also allows for an approach called ring vaccination. This is a tried and true strategy that has been applied since the eradication of smallpox in 1980. Ring vaccination is used to prevent the spread of a disease by concentrating vaccination efforts on those who are most vulnerable or likely to get infected, including contacts of cases.

Verifying Tracers

Ring vaccination utilizes mobile vaccine resources such as a vaccine bus or van to bring vaccines into neighborhoods. Not only are vaccines made available in a concentrated area, but a full array of services are also provided on site including testing, accelerated contact tracing, outreach to all community members and provided contacts, and walk-up and scheduled vaccination services. This provides a way for New Yorkers who are not yet reached by the ongoing vaccination campaign to have an opportunity to engage with a range of COVID-19 resources and prevention measures right at their doorstep.

As New York City continuously evolves our COVID-19 response, we are working with communities to bring these services into distinct neighborhoods, aimed at containing and decreasing areas of sustained or high COVID-19 transmission.

The RingVax program strategically deploys:

  • A mobile COVID-19 testing unit that can perform up to 150 rapid PCR tests each day
  • A mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit capable of administering up to 75+ immunizations each day
  • Contact tracers and community engagement specialists to outreach to contacts of known positive cases in the neighborhood, and engage these individuals towards getting tested
  • Taking a local approach to gather resources in communities experiencing gaps, and to provide vaccinations at a community-level
  • Outreach canvassers to spread the word, share information, and engage the larger community in getting tested and vaccinated

Altogether, this brings constant engagement across multiple channels, with both testing and vaccination directly in the neighborhood. Success means preventing a high transmission zone from getting larger or from spawning additional zones, while also increasing vaccination in the community. Every such vaccination testifies to the strong and enduring bonds of trust between the NYC Test & Trace Corps and cases and contacts in the program.

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