By Hazel Sanchez
PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New data shows the vaccination rates for Black and brown Americans are dramatically lower than white Americans – specifically Black men.
But Paterson‘s mayor is making a bold move to change that in his city.
Jerry Lee of Paterson, who’s Black, has received his first and second shot of the COVID vaccine.
“I would encourage all my brothers and sisters of the African descent, African-American descent: Please get vaccinated while it’s available,” Lee said.
Lee works at the mass vaccination site in Paterson, where he says very few Black residents are coming in.
“They are getting out. They’re coming slowly but surely,” Lee said.
“We’ve got to bring it to the people. If the people are not coming to us, we got to bring it to them,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.
Thursday, Sayegh announced plans for a pop-up vaccination site, making shots more accessible to residents, many hesitant to get the vaccine – especially African-American males.
Sayegh organized a coalition of prominent Black men, including former New York Giant and Jet Leonard Marshall to encourage African-American men to get the shot.
“I got the shot. My wife got the shot. my friends are here getting the shot. It’s up to you to decide. Are you going to be a leader, or you’re going to be a follower? Make the decision. Make the right choice,” Marshall said.
New data shows 48% of vaccine recipients in New Jersey were white. Only 3% were Black, despite the fact that 15% of the state population is Black.
School principal Zatiti Moody, who also got his vaccine shot, urged people to follow the facts.
“Being alive is more important than any things that we can think about, or any theories of this vaccine being some sort of hoax or some sort of trap for African Americans.,” Moody said.
“Get the vaccine,” said Marshall. “Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect the people that you love and care about. If you don’t listen to that, then you’re an idiot.”
Sayegh says the pop-up vaccination site will likely be in a predominantly Black church in the community. He hopes to have it up and running by the end of the month.