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AAPI adults have the highest vaccination rate in NYC, but advocates say figure masks wide disparities

However, community advocates say the achievement hides disparities that remain between groups that happen to fall under the same demographic umbrella.
Asian American, Native Hawaiian and additional Pacific Islander adults over the age of 18 come first citywide, with 69% reported to have received at least one shot in arm. The next-highest group is Native American and Alaska native, with 63% of city adults with at least one dose, according to city data.
White adults are next with 49% receiving at least one dose, followed by Latino Americans at 38%, and Black residents at 31%. Mayor Bill De Blasio has spoken about the city’s need to make vaccine access more equitable.
New York officials plan to redouble efforts to fix racial disparities in vaccination rates
That can create an illusion that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been able to easily access the vaccine, which isn’t always the case, according to advocates. The city’s registry also warns that demographic data should be interpreted with caution due to incomplete reporting.
Anita Gundanna, co-executive director of the NYC-based Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, says that a high vaccination rate belies the wide variety of experiences between groups and individuals, pointing toward the high rates of poverty, under-insurance rates, and unemployment for certain groups who fall under the Asian American umbrella.
Asian Americans currently have the second-highest poverty rate in New York City, behind Latino Americans, according to the city’s latest Poverty Measure report. As of 2017, Asian Americans in New York City also had the highest poverty rate among full-time, year-round workers, city officials said.

Widening disparities

Across the country, Asian Americans are the most economically divided racial or ethnic group, a Pew Research study found. High-income Asian Americans near the top of the income ladder earn 10.7 times as much as those on the opposite end of the income spectrum.
The widening disparities have become particularly apparent for Asian Americans who speak less-widely spoken languages, meaning state and city vaccine information is not as commonly available, according to Gundanna.
“Whenever there is a void in accurate, language-accessible information, that void is filled by misinformation. Social media moves fast. Rumors can spread and word of mouth spreads fast,” Gundanna said.
That can leave small community organizations filling the gap by working directly with residents who may not be reached by state and city campaigns, particularly during a backdrop of rising attacks against AAPI people.
Asian Americans reported being targeted at least 2,400 times this year
Lack of nuanced information can also equal lack of funds. Advocates seek to remedy this by pushing state and city agencies to disaggregate data or break down massive identity blocs such as “Asian American/Pacific Islander” by nationality or ethnic group.
The New York Legislature passed bill that would have required agencies to begin tracking data with a range of Asian and Pacific Islander groups, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed the bill in December 2019.
However, a recent outlining of the state budget would set aside money for state agencies to begin tabulating demographic data for Asian and Pacific Islander groups, according to Gundanna and the New York State FY 2022 budget.
“We want to work in partnership with the state on data disaggregation and we’re ready to do that. And we’re hoping that the state will follow through with that commitment,” Gundanna said.
The Citywide Immunization Registry does not require tracking by nationality, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The city’s page for vaccination data includes multiple caveats, warning that “Vaccination information by race/ethnicity should be interpreted with caution due to the number of people with no reported race/ethnicity. Although CDC requires providers to record race/ethnicity information for COVID-19 vaccinations, it has not been required in the past and it is not consistently received in the vaccination record.”
Cuomo’s office did not respond to CNN’s questions regarding his veto of the bill and the state’s stance on data disaggregation.

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