US Clinics Turn to ‘Vulnerable’ Holocaust Survivors as COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts Ramp Up
With more than 48 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in the US, local Jewish communities are partnering with health workers to inoculate survivors of the Holocaust, an aged and often vulnerable demographic that may not have easy access to the shot.
In the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, over 300 Holocaust survivors were vaccinated at a pop-up site organized at the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House, reported Gothamist Friday.
The UJA-Federation of New York organized the center in less than a week, after the center had struggled to find appointments for survivors in the largely Russian-speaking community. The New York area is home fewer than 40,000 survivors, out of an estimated 400,000 worldwide.
In Brookline, Massachusetts, a similar effort has been organized by Rabbi Danielle Eskow at Congregation Kehillath Israel, reported the Boston Globe, with the help of a local association of Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
And in South Florida, the local NBC affiliate reported that almost 1,000 survivors began receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 shot last week, after the state’s Department of Emergency Management and Department of Health made it a priority to identify them.
“I think being a Jewish firefighter, to be able to vaccinate holocaust survivors is probably one of the greatest things that you can do as an individual,” Casey Sidener told NBC 6. “It’s such a mitzvah we call in the Jewish religion to be able to give back and provide a vaccine that’s so important to our community.”
In Israel — where a world-leading vaccine campaign has at least partially inoculated over half of those eligible — about 5,300 survivors of the Holocaust contracted the coronavirus in 2020, with some 900 dying, according to government statistics.