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February 16th, 2021

Campaign Memo: Launching Y4NY Get Out the Vax (GOTVax)

**RELEASE** February 16th, 2021

New York, NYIt’s been almost a year since this pandemic took our City by surprise. As an emergency medicine physician, wife and mom, I have been working alongside my fellow health care workers, my patients, their families and other New Yorkers every step of the way. Even with the vaccine, our fight is far from over. 

With the vaccine rollout, we’re facing yet another urgent test. It’s also the foundation for New York’s recovery – a step towards restaurants, bars, and museums reopening, grandparents hugging their loved ones tight, reopening our classrooms fully and returning to the office, so the economy can regain traction. None of our ambitions for New York will be possible unless vaccinations are disseminated efficiently and without unnecessary hurdles.

Health care workers, community-based organizations and everyday citizens have been working tirelessly to get New Yorkers informed and vaccinated against COVID-19. This massive, historic undertaking is still in its early stages, and you’re likely seeing on social media what I am seeing in real life.

Private Twitter accounts are notifying followers of appointment times. Senior citizens are waiting for hours at community vaccination sites. Children are waiting on hold for hours to book their parents’ appointments. It’s hard just to find out who is eligible or where to sign up.

The vaccine rollout didn’t need to be this confusing, but it is. If we draw the best parts of this City – the volunteerism, the patriotism, the caring for others, the willingness to help – into this effort, we can still pass, and perhaps even ace, this test.

Get Out The Vax (GOTVax)

That’s where we come in. This campaign, with a volunteer army of 3,500 (and growing), can play a vital role as a megaphone and translator. Starting today, interested volunteers will work to fill the gaps that the current administration has allowed to grow when it comes to information about access and equity.

We will focus on doing three things, and doing them really well: 

  1. Leveraging our infrastructure to create a broader and more systematic dissemination of vaccine information, including to non-English speaking populations.
  2. Bringing additional organizational and technological prowess.
  3. Augmenting outreach and elbow grease on the ground.

What does “really well” look like? It looks simple, clear, accessible, and quick:

  • Recruiting and training volunteers: The Yang for NY campaign will train their volunteer base to participate in our GOTVax service – a team of volunteers who will text and phone bank and canvass New Yorkers (in English, Spanish, and Mandarin). In addition to connecting eligible New Yorkers with information about how to get vaccinated, volunteers will also help educate New Yorkers about how Ranked Choice Voting will work in the upcoming 2021 citywide election.
  • Initial text and phone outreach to New Yorkers 65+ across the City, as well as in-person outreach to New Yorkers in the top 10% most affected areas.
  • Working to connect eligible New Yorkers to vaccine registration hotlines where they can speak to a real person, get signed up for an appointment, and have their logistical and health questions answered.
  • Engaging New Yorkers through neighborhood canvassing: We will canvass in neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID, handing out literature in multiple languages with easy-to-use QR codes, linking to registration sites. If and when there are vaccination centers allowing same-day, walk-in appointments we will work on the ground to support community-based organizations and existing outreach with our vaccine-specific resources and volunteers.

As someone who has been working towards solutions every day since this pandemic started, I know that Yang for NY can have a real impact where it is needed. We know how to be nimble and innovative, and we have the tech and can deploy it. We can leverage the imagination and talent inside this campaign for the immediate benefit of all New Yorkers. If we do this right, we will save lives today and accelerate New York City’s recovery.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that no one wants to go it alone. And our is a campaign that understands that the best way through a crisis is collectively.

Let’s do it. Together.

Thanks, Dr. Dara Kass

Dr. Dara Kass is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine physician at Columbia University Medical Center. She was born in Brooklyn and currently lives in Park Slope. She is the founder and CEO of FemInEM, an organization dedicated to advancing gender equity in emergency medicine and has been a national voice on the impact of the COVID pandemic on the lives of Americans for the past year. She currently serves as a voluntary senior advisor to the Yang for NY campaign.


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