NEW YORK — Even as New York struggles with a vaccine shortage, it is working to expand outreach to under-served communities.
The state announced new pop-up COVID-19 vaccination sites at churches in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, all eight pop-up locations will administer the COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with the Somos Community Care network. Each has 500 doses of the vaccine.
The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem opened first Sunday.
“The vaccinations that we have, the reservations have already been made. People have already signed up. They are ready to go. Not only for today but also for tomorrow,” Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts said.
Janice Dye Owens was one of the lucky few New Yorkers who got an appointment in Harlem Sunday,
“I was very excited because it is becoming so difficult for people to get appointments. I think the system needs to be revamped,” she said.
Dr. Ramon Tallaj of Somos Community Care said they would distribute every dose allocated to them from the state.
“Vaccine is for the use, not to be for storage,” HE SAID.
But for every person getting the vaccine over the holiday weekend, there are many more who were not.
“We pray for more vaccine. Because as somebody who has constituents calling me every minute to get a vaccination, it’s hard to get a vaccine. It’s hard to make an appointment,” Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer said.
And while these pop-up sites are booked up, the state has promised that once there is enough of the vaccine, the outreach will continue.
“It’s important when you have community voices and church with the prestige of Abyssinian Baptist Church stepping up to say, ‘listen, community: this is safe,'” State Senator Brian Benjamin said.
As New Yorkers call for more vaccines from the federal government, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said a federal health force is needed.
“President-Elect Biden’s plan will put resources allocated to do exactly that; to hire 100,000 public health workers, to get more shots into arms, to make sure we have the contact tracing and testing that is necessary to defeat COVID,” Senator Gillibrand said Sunday.
Cuomo said Sunday that the state’s positivity rate was 5.61% Sunday and 172 people died Saturday.
“It’s time for the federal government to step up, increase the supply and actually help the state defeat this virus once and for all,” Cuomo said.