Opportunities to get vaccinated improve in NYC, but new problems arise

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — More than 2.1 million doses of vaccine, enough for about 16% of all eligible adults, have been administered in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.  

Also, state vaccination megasites, including the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side, have been able to increase capacity, in some cases three-fold, now that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has joined the coronavirus prevention arsenal.  

Still, there are some problems with getting people connected to the vaccine, even if they have appointments.

At the Yankee Stadium megasite on Friday, there was a line of people extending most of the length of the right field wall. The line, however, wasn’t for getting vaccinated. Instead, it was the line for people making an appointment to get vaccinated.

Nancy Luna was one of those people.  

“It’s too hard to get an appointment from [the] internet,” she explained, while she waited in the queue that seemed to move at a steady pace. She said that because she knows so many people who couldn’t get through by computer or by phone to make a vaccination appointment, she felt that it was better to come in person.

The Yankee Stadium location, along with the site at the Javits Center, are now open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has increased supply. The state has made clear that it will give people with overnight appointments the Johnson & Johnson medication.

One issue, though, is that the subway is not operating from 2 to 4 a.m., making it difficult for people who need an inoculation at that time, but who can only afford public transportation, to get protected from COVID-19.
 
Bronx resident George Cook made an appointment on Friday and was pleased with the quick turnaround.

“My appointment is scheduled for Sunday morning, 3 a.m.,” he said. He and his wife plan to return to Yankee Stadium by cab then, but he said that he understands that for other people, transportation could be the difference between being able to get a shot, and not. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” Cook said. “And hopefully those that are homebound and can’t get out for one reason or another, the vaccine should be able to come to them.” 

That’s actually what the city has been doing, both in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on Friday, and in Co-op City in the Bronx on Thursday. Mayor de Blasio said on Friday that he wants to increase the program, as supplies increase, assuming they do.  

Meanwhile, some problems continue for some people who already have appointments. Middle school teacher Esther Pietri was frustrated as she stood outside the Yankee Stadium site on Friday afternoon, wondering what to do. Security workers turned her away because she’d brought her laptop from work.

There were no signs posted saying that items like it could not be brought and the state vaccination website’s 58 “frequently asked questions” didn’t say anything about not allowing items like Pietri’s laptop inside.  

At the Javits Center, there was a sign posted on the front door saying that no personal belongings were allowed, but because of the three-and-a-half blocks-long line, most people wouldn’t see the sign until they’d reached the door. Getting there meant about a two hour wait.

Meanwhile, there was no such sign posted at Yankee Stadium’s entrance, to Pietri’s chagrin.

“I understand they have their rules,” she said, “but the rules should be documented.”

Later Friday, Anna Friedman of Eastchester arrived early for her 9 p.m. appointment. 

“I think that it’s great that it is one dose. It makes it a lot easier for most people. Just happy to get whatever vaccine I can get,” she said. 

For anyone concerned about the efficacy of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine compared to Pfizer and Moderna, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it does a great job of stopping serious illness and is 100% effective in preventing death.

“If you go in and vaccine is available to you, I would take the first available vaccine. Because the most important thing to do is to get vaccinated,” Dr. Fauci said. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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