SUNY Downstate President Dr. Wayne J. Riley Appointed by Governor Cuomo To Vaccine Equity Task Force

By Office of Communications & Marketing | Dec 22, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn S. Walker  | | (347) 533-2071

ALBANY, NY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday the appointment of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences Center's Dr. Wayne J. Riley to New York's Vaccine Equity Task Force. The Task Force's focus is to ensure that vulnerable and underserved communities are part of the state's vaccination program and ensure equitable distribution statewide.

"Governor Cuomo has assembled some of the best minds in healthcare and the strongest community leaders in New York to ensure that underserved populations are top-of-mind during vaccine planning," said Dr. Riley. "Predominantly, black and brown communities have been hardest hit during this pandemic, and we must help these communities overcome longstanding medical distrust to ensure they get vaccinated against COVID-19. We have the opportunity here to save lives, and I join my fellow task force members in this solemn commitment to drive equitable distribution."

The Task Force will provide the Governor and Health Commissioner with recommendations that ensure equitable and easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, with a prime focus on overcoming vaccine mistrust and for increasing confidence in safety and efficacy, particularly in communities of color.  The Task Force is also charged with ensuring that communications and outreach address language barriers, cultural competency, and misinformation, including the use of personal health information and partnering with community and religious leaders to identify appropriate locations for vaccinations.

The Task Force is chaired by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang. It includes leaders from state agencies and healthcare, religious, civic, and labor organizations from across the state.

More than 38,000 vaccinations have been administered in New York State as of Monday. Another 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 120,000 doses of the Pfizer are expected to begin arriving this week. Approximately 75 to 85 percent of the population must be vaccinated to stem the pandemic.

The full list of Task Force participants can be found here.


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.