NEW YORK — Even after a full day of work at the Institute for Family Health in the Bronx, Cheikhou Ann goes out into his own neighborhood to sign people up for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, data from the city puts vaccination rates in the south Bronx among the lowest in the city, at about 40%. Ann is trying to change those numbers.

“We are doing some outreach in most of the community, the faith communities and we’re doing lots of Days of Action,” Ann said.

Days of Action are New York City’s version of a new plan President Joe Biden announced Wednesday.

What You Need To Know

  • Cheikhou Ann, a community health advocate in the Bronx, spends his entire work day trying to get people signed up to get their COVID-19 vaacine

  • Ann believes community outreach, not incentives, is the key to convincing vaccine holdouts to change their minds

  • President Biden set a goal of getting 70% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4

During a press conference, Biden declared that the entire month of June will now be a “National Month of Action.” His goal is to get 70% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

“Nationally, we are at 63% of adults with one shot,” Biden said. “We are getting closer, but we still have work to do.”

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 65% of New York residents have received at least one shot.

Cuomo on Wednesday also announced an effort to ramp up vaccinations.

“Focus for us now? 12- to 17-year-olds, at 9% of the population. Why are they so low?” Cuomo said at a news conference.

Ann told NY1 he still sees a lot of hesitancy among adults in the Bronx and that they give him numerous reasons why they don’t want to get the shot.

“You have some people say, ‘How did they get a vaccine so quick?’ We heard that. Some people say, ‘Why suddenly is it all about getting vaccinated?’” Ann said, recalling some of the responses he has heard from Bronx residents.

The city and state have tried to drum up various giveaways in the hopes of encouraging any vaccination holdouts. The White House is now doing the same and has teamed up with Anheuser-Busch. The company said that it will buy America its next round of beer, seltzer or non-alcoholic beverage if the U.S. reaches Biden’s 70% goal by Independence Day.

“That's right: get a shot and have a beer. Free beer for everyone 21 years or over to celebrate the independence from the virus,” Biden said about the offer.

Ann didn’t agree with that giveaway and said, from what he’s seen, people don't usually sign up to get something in return. He’d like more resources for education and community outreach, which are also part of Biden’s five-point plan.

Ann said he’s seen success when outreach workers hit the streets and go to mosques and community centers.

“I went to some [places] and they were hesitant about getting the vaccines,” Ann said. “But when I spoke to them, I pray with them and just be with them, then they were ready to listen to me.”

Biden also announced that pharmacies, like CVS and Walgreens, will now be open 24 hours a day on Fridays during the month of June in the hopes of boosting vaccination numbers.


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