QUEENS, NY – Today, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with representation from the Bronx Borough President’s Office and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), held a joint press conference with public health leaders, local elected officials, and community advocates outside the City’s Beach 39th Street Vaccine Hub to urge Far Rockaway residents to get vaccinated. At the press conference, Borough President Adams, Queens Borough President Richards, and other local leaders touted the fact that they have been vaccinated, and reassured residents, particularly in traditionally underserved communities, that the vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives. 

“New Yorkers have been resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially here in Queens. However the pandemic is far from over given the rise of the Delta variant. It is more important than ever to ensure everyone gets vaccinated so they can protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors,” said Queens Borough President DONOVAN RICHARDS. “The vaccines are safe, effective, and free, and I am proud to stand with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Deputy Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden and the DOHMH to launch this partnership and urge our much-needed communities to get their doses.”

“This virus, and the new Delta variant, are formidable opponents. But we have a strong weapon on our side: vaccines. We have seen that this pandemic does not respect national, state, city, or borough borders. That’s why we have to encourage as many New Yorkers as possible to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Brooklyn Borough President ERIC ADAMS. “To get vaccination rates up across the five boroughs, we need a combination of smart policies and aggressive outreach through credible messengers. I’m proud to join Queens Borough President Richards, DOHMH, and other local leaders to urge residents in Far Rockaway to get vaccinated.”

The Borough Presidents announced a new City partnership that will incentivize local businesses to refer patrons and community members for vaccination through $100 payments to participating businesses, adding to the existing $100 incentive available to individuals who have not yet been vaccinated. The program will advance the twin goals of boosting vaccination rates while supporting struggling small businesses in economically underserved areas.   

The partnership builds on the ‘NYC Vaccine Referral Bonus’ program, launched by the City in June of this year, which engages small businesses, community-based organizations, parent-teacher associations (PTAs), houses of worship, and other local institutions to turn out their neighbors, awarding $100 for each referral that leads to an individual’s receiving their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a City-run site. Each organization is eligible for up to $20,000 in incentives, representing 200 referrals in total. 

In the coming weeks, the Borough Presidents will announce future events in other areas around the city that suffer from low vaccination rates to ensure vaccinations continue to rise and New York beats back the surge in cases. Next steps include canvassing events in small business corridors in Brooklyn and Queens to inform local business owners of the $100 incentive and the influential role they can play as community anchors in advocating for their customers to get vaccinated. 

 “Our road to recovery starts with everyone getting vaccinated. I urge everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine — they are safe, free and effective at protecting you against the worst outcomes of this virus,” said NYC Health Department First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Torian Easterling. “Thank you to all of our partners in government and in the community for working together to make our city safe from COVID-19.”


“In The Bronx, we were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing vaccination rates will play a key role in our city’s recovery,” said Bronx Borough President RUBEN DIAZ JR. “It is critical for the health of ourselves, our families and our fellow New Yorkers that we get the vaccine and beat the virus together. I want to thank my colleagues Borough President Donovan Richards, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for their partnership in getting the message out that the vaccines are safe, effective and accessible in all corners of our City.”


“The high numbers of COVID cases and low vaccination numbers in the Rockaways are alarming especially now with the emergence of the Delta Variant,” said State Senator JAMES SANDERS JR. “I have encouraged the Mayor to station mobile vaccination vans at all city events with 100 people or more and support all efforts to ensure that as many people as possible get vaccinated so we can finally put a halt to this deadly disease.”

“COVID-19 and the new Delta variant still pose a threat to our communities — especially the unvaccinated,” said State Senator JOE ADDABBO JR. “In our fight against COVID, it is important to speak with your doctor, get educated on the vaccine, and get vaccinated. By getting vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting your loved ones, co-workers, and your community. While we should still maintain a social distance and wash our hands, the vaccine is the only way we can truly defeat this virus.”

“Our community has come so far from being one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in New York City during the devastating first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Assemblymember STACEY PHEFFER AMATO. “With the delta variant proving to be an even more dangerous virus, it is absolutely essential that everyone who can get vaccinated makes an appointment today. Appointments are widely available, and home visits have made the vaccine easy to attain and accessible for New Yorkers. The vaccines are safe, free, effective and are the light at the end of the tunnel to end this pandemic once and for all. Please encourage your neighbors, loved ones, families and friends to get the COVID-19 vaccine today.”

“We must address vaccinations through a racial justice lens. In Far Rockaway and Southeast Queens, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, including the new Delta Variant, has exposed deep healthcare inequities that disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic communities. Medical racism has effectively paved the way for vaccine curiosity, cynicism, and conspiracy theories that circulate across our social networks,” said Assemblymember KHALEEL ANDERSON. “Today, I proudly join Queens Borough President Richards and my colleagues in urging Southeast Queens residents to get vaccinated as we commit to more vaccine education, expanded choice, increased access, and genuine community partnership.” 

“Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single biggest step we can all take to end the pandemic,” said Councilmember SELVENA BROOKS-POWERS. “The vaccinations are safe and effective, and more widely available than ever. Queens was hit first, we were hit hard, and we are still struggling to recover, especially with the rise of the Delta variant. That’s why I strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated – it’s the best way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors.”

“As we approach this critical time in the pandemic response, it is so vital to the future of New York City that the residents of Far Rockaway and all New Yorkers continue to get vaccinated. We are all in this together – so it is imperative that we reach mass vaccination status citywide, especially in underserved communities,” said Doctors Council SEIU President DR. FRANCK PROSCIA, M.D. “If you are a Far Rockaway resident or anyone looking for more information: there are many clinics available and hotlines to call which will serve you or your family. From all of us at Doctors Council, we implore you to get vaccinated, wear your mask, and wash your hands so we can continue to protect each other as we progress in our collective effort to combat COVID-19 in New York and beyond.”

“St. John’s is committed to supporting local efforts to increase the vaccination rates in the Rockaways,” said St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Vice President of External Affairs RENEE HASTICK-MOTES. “In addition to providing the vaccine at our ambulatory locations, residents may also walk-in to our Patient Express Center (PEC) located on our hospital campus Tuesdays and Thursdays between 5PM and 8PM to receive the vaccine. No appointment necessary.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted our physical well-being but also our mental health. Based on research my team and I conducted, Queens children and adults are experiencing high anxiety and depression,” said Child HELP Partnership Founder and Executive Director DR. ELISSA BROWN. “These symptoms are correlated with exposure to trauma and stress, but not specific to COVID-19. As a result, they may not be focused on the pandemic and vaccination. It is now more critical than ever we spread the word about vaccines so we can move forward from this pandemic once and for all.”

The Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to cause a troubling rise in positive coronavirus cases citywide. As of August 5th, the citywide positivity rate stands at 3.27 percent. Areas with low vaccination rates are particularly vulnerable to the Delta variant, according to public health experts. 

In April, Queens was the first county in the state to have 1 million residents vaccinated. In two dozen ZIP codes across Queens, more than 70 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, August 5th. In total, 67 percent of Queens residents — just over than 1.5 million people — have received at least one vaccine dose, by far the second-highest total of the five boroughs and six percentage points higher than the City average.

However, vaccination rates in historically underserved communities across Southeast Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula have lagged other areas. As of Thursday, ZIP Code 11691, made up of Far Rockaway and Edgemere, has the lowest vaccination rate of any ZIP code in the City of New York with just 38.85 percent of eligible residents having received at least one vaccine dose.

The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted Far Rockaway. According to City data, the virus has been either the confirmed or probable cause of death of 535 Far Rockaway and Edgemere residents as of Thursday, the second-most of any ZIP code in the borough, while a total of 8,605 residents living in ZIP code 11691 have tested positive for COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.