Metro

NYC’s Orthodox neighborhoods lagging in COVID vaccines

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The Big Apple’s major ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods are now among the biggest laggards in the city’s coronavirus vaccination drive — with just 22 percent of high school-age kids having received shots in one Williamsburg ZIP code.

It’s new evidence that city officials are still struggling to make a dent in the vaccine hesitancy that’s rampant in the insular communities, which helped fuel the measles outbreaks that dominated headlines before COVID-19 struck.

The lagging ZIP codes stand out in comparison to the rest of the city, The Post’s analysis of Health Department data reveals.

“There are three different things that combined are causing the overall lower vaccination rates,” said David Greenfield, the head of Met Council, one of the city’s leading Jewish charities, in a statement.

“1. Many already had COVID and therefore don’t believe they need to be vaccinated; 2. Misinformation from right-wing media, and; 3. The lack of engagement with this demographic by New York City.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio imposed a vaccine requirement for students to participate in many after-school and extra-curricular activities over the summer to boost inoculation rates at the city’s public high schools.

Overall, 76 percent of New York City’s teens between the ages of 13 and 17 have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine — and 66 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The campaign has hit most parts of the five boroughs, too, with 166 of New York’s 177 ZIP codes reporting that at least 50 percent of teens have gotten at least one shot.

A woman pushes a stroller near the Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov School in the South Williamsburg neighborhood
David Greenfield said there are multiple factors into why the heavily-orthodox zip codes have seen low vaccination rates.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Of the 11 remaining ZIP codes, six are home to large populations of ultra Orthodox groups, the data shows.

Teens who live in Williamsburg’s 11211 are the least likely to be vaccinated in the whole city: Just 22 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds have received at least one shot — and only 18 percent are fully vaccinated.

Another Williamsburg ZIP code, 11206, is tied with Staten Island’s Tottenville for the second least vaccinated code — with just 37 percent of teens having gotten at least one shot.

“I think what’s causing it is largely a belief that I’ve heard that because they had such high infection rates beyond, that largely it’s natural immunity,” said Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), who represents much of Williamsburg and is vaccinated.

It echoes an argument commonly heard in the ultra-Orthodox community against the measles vaccine mandates imposed during the outbreak.

In this July 22, 2021, file photo, health care worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
In one area of Williamsburg, only 22 percent of high school-aged kids have gotten the jab.
Mary Altaffer, File/AP

“We have to do more,” Levin added. “The city needs to look back at some of the lessons learned during measles when it comes to doing outreach in the Orthodox community.”

The area’s other lawmaker, Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), also called for City Hall to redouble its outreach efforts in the wake of The Post’s analysis.

“We know, for sure, that in the past the rabbis came together to do a strong education campaign to inform their members they should get vaccinated,” added Reynoso, who represents the other parts of Williamsburg. “I’d love to see another effort like what we saw down with the distancing and the masks also done for the vaccinations.”

The eastern section of Crown Heights and Midwood’s 11230 were the next least vaccinated zip codes in the city when it comes to teenagers.

Just 39 percent of the teens there have gotten at least one shot, the records show.

The rates of vaccination were only marginally higher in Midwood’s 11210 and Borough Park, which Greenfield once represented, where just 44 and 46 percent of teens have received their first jab, respectively.

The vaccination rates in Brooklyn stand in stark contrast to those posted by Manhattan’s Upper West Side, another part of the city with a large Jewish community that’s more liberal.

The data shows that 100 percent of teens who live in the UWS’s 10023 and 10024 zip codes have been vaccinated. That percentage that falls slightly to 87 percent in 10025, which also covers Morningside Heights.

Stephen Levin has said high infection rates and natural immunity has led to fewer people getting the COVID-19 vaccine in those orthodox neighborhoods.
Stephen Levin has said high infection rates and natural immunity has led to fewer people getting the COVID-19 vaccine in those orthodox neighborhoods.
Stefan Jeremiah for New York Pos

The six ZIP codes identified by The Post’s analysis are also lagging behind when it comes to vaccinating adults, too.

The 11210 ZIP code that covers portions of Midwood and the Flatlands has the fourth lowest vaccination rate for adults in the five boroughs among its 177 zip codes, based on adults with at least one shot.

The eastern Crown Heights zip code is the seventh lowest, while Borough Park is the ninth lowest and Midwood’s 11230 is the twelfth lowest.

South Williamsburg and Williamsburg fair somewhat better at the 35th and 46th least vaccinated zip codes in the city.

The Health Department data obtained by The Post sheds light on why the overall vaccination rate for high schoolers in Brooklyn continues to lag so badly behind the rest of the city.

Just 29 percent of white teens between the ages of 13-17 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Brooklyn — compared to 83 percent in Manhattan.

It also stands in sharp contrast to Brooklyn’s other major demographic groups: 99 percent of Asian teens aged 13-17 have received at least one shot, as have 69 percent of Hispanic and Latinos and 49 percent of black teens.

MARCH 26: Orthodox Jews walk near a medical worker wearing a mask as a bus with an "I love NY" sign drives past in Williamsburg on March 26, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Teens in the 11211 zip code have the lowest vaccination numbers in the city, per data.
Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Indeed, the 29 percent figure for white teens in Brooklyn is the single lowest reading for any demographic group by age and borough in the whole city, Health Department data shows.

“The City has been working with community leaders, including healthcare providers who serve these areas to ensure accurate information and vaccine resources are widely available,” said Health Department spokesman Michael Lanza.

“Our work includes, but is not limited to, community leader meetings, press briefings, community organization funding for communications materials, drafting of materials, and convening of the Haredi Health Coalition,” he added.

BY THE NUMBERS

The 10 ZIP codes with the lowest vaccination rates for 13-17 year-olds (at least one dose administered):

  • #1: 11211 (Brooklyn – Williamsburg) – 22%
  • #2: 10307 (Staten Island – Tottenville): 37%
  • TIE: 11206 (Brooklyn – South Williamsburg): 37%
  • #4: 11230 (Brooklyn – Midwood): 39%
  • TIE: 11213 (Brooklyn – eastern Crown Heights): 39%
  • #6: 11210 (Brooklyn – East Midwood/Flatlands): 44%
  • #7: 11693 (Queens – Arverne/Broad Channel): 45%
  • #8: 11219 (Brooklyn – Borough Park): 46%
  • #9: 11233 (Brooklyn – Bedford-Stuyvesant/Brownsville): 47%
  • #10: 10308 (Staten Island – Great Kills): 48%
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