Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs explains how he plans on getting vaccines into the arms of people in his community, which has had a low vaccine turnout.  Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara/Thomas A. Ferrara

COVID-19 vaccination rates on Long Island vary drastically by ZIP code, a Newsday analysis found, with race, ethnicity, income and education levels key predictors as to whether someone has been inoculated.

Overall, Suffolk has a lower vaccination rate than Nassau: 51.8% vs. 57.9%, according to the analysis, which used U.S. Census Bureau population estimates for each community and state-compiled vaccination data from Nassau and Suffolk counties.

In ZIP codes where most residents are Black or Latino, 41.9% of residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, while in ZIP codes where most residents are not Black and Latino, 54.9% have, the analysis found. In addition, people in ZIP codes with lower median household incomes and a lower percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree were less likely to have gotten vaccinated.

What to know

  • COVID-19 vaccination rates on Long Island differ greatly by ZIP code.

  • Race, ethnicity, income and education level are major factors in determining if someone gets vaccinated.

  • Nassau and Suffolk officials and community leaders said expanded access to vaccines and targeted education efforts are key to helping increase vaccination rates.

Martine Hackett, an associate professor of health professions at Hofstra University in Hempstead and an expert on health inequities, said the vaccination data reflects long-standing disparities.

"There’s a very strong correlation between socioeconomic status and health outcomes" in general, she said. "The lower the socioeconomic status, the worse the health outcomes are."

ZIP codes in Roosevelt and Hempstead Village had the lowest vaccination rates in Nassau County. The large majority of residents there are Black and Latino, and median household incomes are well below the rest of Nassau's.

COVID-19 Vaccination Rates by ZIP Code

This map and the table below it show vaccination progress among Long Island communities based on federal data provided by New York State. The darker areas have higher percentages of fully vaccinated residents. Rates are for entire population.

Vaccination rates in some ZIP Codes are higher or lower than actual because U.S. Census Bureau population estimates can be higher or lower than actual, particularly in ZIP codes that have small populations or transient populations, such as college campuses. Patient address corrections can cause slight vaccination rate declines.

Sources: New York State; U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In Suffolk, ZIP codes in Mastic Beach, Mastic and Shirley had the lowest vaccination rates. White, non-Hispanic people are a large majority of those three communities’ residents, but they have lower median incomes and a much lower percentage of residents with college degrees than Suffolk as a whole.

Hackett said education helps determine people's neighborhood, job, income "and who you are surrounded by and influenced by."

People with low-wage jobs, as well as jobs of various incomes that don’t require a college education, often have a harder time taking time off from work to get vaccinated or to recover from potential effects of the vaccine, she said.

The vaccination data is based on self-reported postal ZIP codes. The Census Bureau’s "ZIP code tabulation areas" are usually the same as postal ZIP codes, but in some cases there are blocks or neighborhoods that do not correspond, according to the Census Bureau.

Hackett said the primary reason Suffolk's vaccination rate is lower than Nassau's may be that Suffolk is less densely populated than Nassau.

"It’s just harder to get around, especially if you’re living in more isolated areas and you don’t have access to a car," she said.

Suffolk has a slightly lower percentage of residents who are Black and Latino than Nassau, but a lower median income and college degree level.

Commissioner: 'Street outreach' key

Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said the county is working to get the vaccine to as many neighborhoods as possible, so transportation isn’t as much an issue. He cited "vax and vote" events Tuesday tied to school board elections in Brentwood and Wyandanch.

The county also is working with local organizations to answer residents’ questions about vaccines, he said.

'You have to really meet people where they are, hear them out, listen to them and then address their concerns point by point.'

Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott

"It’s street outreach," he said. "You have to really meet people where they are, hear them out, listen to them and then address their concerns point by point."

In Nassau, Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein said in an email that the county is targeting communities with low vaccination rates with pop-up sites, offering more convenient times and working with trusted community leaders to emphasize that vaccines are safe and effective.

As is the case nationwide, the pace of vaccinations on Long Island has dropped in recent weeks, from an average of 20,201 people on Long Island getting their final or only dose each day in the week ending May 1, to 11,332 people the week ending Wednesday, state data shows.

Some affluent communities have vaccination rates roughly double that of adjoining or nearby places. Melville ZIP code 11747, which is 84% white and has a median annual income of nearly $127,000, has a vaccination rate of more than 70%. Nearby, Wyandanch’s 11798, which is 87% Black and Latino with a median income of $81,378, was at 36.1%.

Statewide, Black and Latino residents also are less likely to be vaccinated than white and Asian residents, although the gap is narrowing.

The Island’s highest vaccination rate — 86.2% — is in Point Lookout, a 97% white community in Nassau where nearly a third of residents are 65 and older, compared with 18% for all of Nassau. Older people are more likely to be vaccinated than younger people.

Most ZIP codes with the highest vaccination rates are on the East End, where rates typically were well above 70%. Hackett said one reason may be that some well-off residents of New York City relocated to the East End during the pandemic. They wouldn’t be counted in the pre-pandemic population numbers.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said that, in addition, "We’ve been very aggressive in promoting vaccination," and numerous vaccination sites have made it convenient for residents.

Some have distrust for government

In Uniondale’s 11553 ZIP code, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates, 39.1%, one challenge has been Black residents’ distrust of the government and health system because of a long history of abuse and discrimination, said Pearl Jacobs, president of the area’s Nostrand Gardens Civic Association.

She said she tells fellow Black residents that "you can’t live in the past, you have to move forward into the future and trust the science." That has changed some people’s minds, she said.

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. predicts more will get vaccinated...

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. predicts more will get vaccinated as they see that family members, friends and others they trust have gotten the shot. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr., who is Black, said he posted himself getting vaccinated on social media, to help ease the concerns of Black and other residents. He predicted that more will get vaccinated as they see that family members, friends and others they trust have gotten the shot and were not harmed.

State, Nassau and Suffolk officials said they have placed many long-term and pop-up vaccination sites in communities of color. But Hackett said most people who used some of those sites traveled in from other places.

Brentwood has hosted several sites, but the vaccination rate there, where nearly seven out of 10 residents are Latino, is only 42.5%.

Herbie Medina, co-founder and vice president of Uplift Our Towns, a nonprofit that started in Brentwood, said some Brentwood residents living in the country without legal authorization worry that requesting a vaccination will lead to their deportation, even though immigration status isn’t queried at sites.

Trusted community nonprofits have worked to register people for vaccines, but "some people just don’t reach out for help," so they may not be on those groups’ radars, he said. Medina said there should be more of a focus on "boots-on-the-ground" outreach — door-to-door and in public places.

In Mastic Beach’s 11951 ZIP code, which has the lowest vaccination rate in Suffolk, 33.3%, "I don’t see a big push to get people vaccinated here," said Maura Spery, a former mayor of the now-disbanded village of Mastic Beach.

'There’s a big population here that is watching the news media and social media that is more toward anti-vaxxing than toward vaxxing.'

Maura Spery, a former mayor of the now-disbanded village of Mastic Beach


She said she was unaware of any vaccination site in the area, other than at a CVS, and if there have been sites, "They aren’t doing a very good job of letting people know about it."

Pigott said there have been "a couple of pop-up events" in the area, but, he said, "That’s probably an area we need to visit more often and do more community-based sites."

Spery said the hamlet's Republican leaning also is "a big factor." Mastic Beach election districts voted solidly for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released May 6 found that 20% of Republicans nationwide said they would "definitely not" get vaccinated, compared with 13% of independents and 4% of Democrats.

"The vaccine has been politicized and I think there’s a big population here that is watching the news media and social media that is more toward anti-vaxxing than toward vaxxing," Spery said.

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