On Monday, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer- a candidate for Queens Borough President and Assemblymember Ron Kim called for the city to distribute more vaccine doses to community based organizations working with AAPI seniors. According to the city, only 17 percent seniors over 65 have received one dose of the vaccine are Asian. 27% of Queens identifies as Asian.
"AAPI seniors across Queens are struggling to recover from the dual pandemic of COVID and anti-Asian hate. If we want to get over the curve, the city must prioritize expanding vaccine eligibility for all- no matter the language they speak, immigration status, income level, or access to online services. In order to do that, we must mobilize and empower our local community based organizations so that we can meet people where they're at," said Jimmy Van Bramer.
On March 4th, Van Bramer wrote a letter to the mayor calling on the city to tap into community based organizations to guide the roll out of the vaccines so that vaccines can get to BIPOC residents throughout the City.
Assemblymember Ron Kim said, "At this point in the pandemic, it is crucial that our vaccine distribution plan outpace the growing number of variants in our city. I thank Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and our other community leaders for joining us today to call for expanded vaccine distribution efforts in Flushing. CBOs such as CAIPA have already distributed 550 vaccinations over a months period, yet have the capacity to distribute 200-300 shots per day. We need to support them to reach that goal. I am proud to support Jimmy Van Bramer for Queens Borough President because I know he will work hand in hand with communities like ours to meet these critical gaps in need.
The Chinese American Independent Practice Association (CAIPA) has set up a pop-up vaccination site at Flushing Town Hall with Chinese language translators and primary care physicians. Last month, they received 550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and ran out within two days. CBOs like CAIPA also play an important role in navigating the system for non-native English speakers. Currently the NYC Health Department's website suggests using Google Translate to navigate the online appointment system and offers a Google Translate drop down menu with select languages while the New York State vaccine appointment site is only in English. More than half of all households in Queens speak another language other than English, and without comprehensive language access, many Queens residents cannot navigate the vaccine system alone.
Van Bramer is the only candidate for Queens Borough President to reject real estate money, uplift small businesses, and put communities at the center of the land use process. Van Bramer is a staunch advocate for the fully-affordable Phipps housing in his own Sunnyside neighborhood, and co-sponsors two long-standing small business protection bills- Small Business Jobs Survival Act and Commercial Rent Control in the New York City Council.
Background on Van Bramer
Jimmy Van Bramer, born and raised in Astoria, Queens, is the Deputy Leader of the New York City Council. He was first elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009, and re-elected in both 2013 and 2017. Van Bramer is a founding member of the progressive caucus of the New York City Council.
He works tirelessly to fight for working people, equality for all, and the importance of improving quality of life in our community- values instilled by his parents. His father, William Van Bramer, was a lifelong member of Printers' and Pressman's Union Local 2, and his mother Elizabeth Van Bramer helped support the family - even through bouts of homelessness and food insecurity - by working as a meat wrapper and cashier at local supermarkets, and was a member of Local 1893 of the International Brotherhood of Painters.
His first foray into organizing was when he was a St. John's University student in 1993, leading a queer group of students who fought to be officially recognized by the largest catholic university in the country. Later, he organized for Ed Sedarbaum's 1998 State Senate race, gravitating towards the nascent movement to elect queer people in Queens and starting his personal decades long fight with the Queens County Democratic Party machine.
In 1998, he was an organizer with Citizen Action of New York to create what-is-now today's current New York City campaign finance system with matching funds. At the same time, he led civil disobedience actions with Irish LGBTQ folks trying to march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parades, which previously banned openly queer groups from marching.
In 2001, he stepped forward as the insurgent candidate against the Queens machine for City Council, coming in second. In the ensuing years, he worked as an organizer for the Queens Public Library and joined the board of the Queens Council on the Arts. In 2009, Van Bramer won his City Council election against Queens County machine pick Deirdre Feerick. He similarly bucked the machine to back Melissa Mark-Viverito for Speaker.
He was a leader in the opposition to $3 billion of tax subsidies for Amazon HQ2 and was the first Queens elected official to endorse Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney.
He currently lives in Sunnyside Gardens with his husband Dan Hendrick. Jimmy married Dan on July 28, 2012, becoming the first openly-gay elected official to get married in the borough of Queens.