New York City has developed a phased distribution plan to vaccinate five million residents against the COVID-19 virus by June 2021.
The phased plan is based on the state’s plan and CDC recommendations, beginning December 2020 with the vaccination of healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff. It has since expanded to include other vulnerable groups, including those over 65, some frontline workers, and those living and working in the shelter system.
The intensifying push to get New Yorkers vaccinated comes as COVID-19 has killed more than 476,000 people in the United States. Nationwide, at least 35.8 million have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Although the State has reported an extreme shortage in vaccine doses– New York State only receives around 250,000 vaccine doses each week from the federal government– so far, the city has vaccinated 1,170,278 residents.
In order to get the vaccines to those who need them most, the city has set up the Vaccine Equity Task Force, the Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force and the Clinical Advisory Task Force. The task forces are responsible for dealing with what has been an inequitable rollout, where problematic scheduling and access, and inadequate outreach has left minority communities behind in vaccination rates.
The two vaccines currently being used in New York City are from Pfizer and Moderna and require two doses to be fully immunized. The recommended second-shot date for Pfizer’s vaccine is three weeks after the initial dose and four weeks for Moderna. However, the CDC says the interval can be up to six weeks.
It is not yet known how long immunity from the vaccines lasts or whether those immunized can still be contagious.
Who is eligible?
More than 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for vaccination as part of the city’s phased approach, including doctors, nurses and health care workers, people age 65 and over, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers and public safety workers.
Those groups are categorized as either 1a or 1b (the initial phase of the plan was 1a, and we are currently in phase 1b).
Beginning February 15, people with certain underlying conditions will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the phased approach was based on ten principles: safety, effectiveness, expert approval, equitable and clinically driven distribution, transparency, data use, privacy and patient safety, partnership coordination and public outreach, state leadership and “being New York tough.”
The two groups in 1a are healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.
In 1b, groups include: those 65 and over, grocery workers, first responders, corrections, p-12 staff, public transport staff, restaurant and delivery workers, taxi and limousine drivers, and those who live or work in shelters or other residential programs or supportive housing.
Starting Feb. 15, people with underlying conditions are also eligible. For a full list of eligible underlying conditions, click here.
Phase 1c is predicted to start between March and April, and will likely include other at-risk groups and essential workers, both to be determined by the state.
Phase 2 is expected to start in summer and will include everyone.
How to make an appointment
The process for making an appointment to get vaccinated has been riddled with issues. Appointments are extremely hard to come by, and there have been numerous reports of people misrepresenting themselves to appear eligible for a vaccine, and vaccines being wasted by those who don’t show up for appointments.
At the moment, vaccines are available at pharmacies, hospitals, community pop-up sites, and large events centers/community gathering spaces.
To make an appointment, you can use the city’s vaccine finder page to determine your closest vaccination site. From there, you can select your site and make an appointment.
In order to make an appointment you have to fill out details to confirm your eligibility, and each location requires you to bring different documentation on the day of the appointment.
To make an appointment a state-run vaccination site, use the Am I Eligible app to confirm you are eligible and schedule the appointment, and fill out the subsequent forms which are required for the appointment.
Where to get a vaccine in Brooklyn
All vaccinations are being done by appointment only, and there vaccine sites are listed on the city’s website. Appointments can also be scheduled through the state vaccine hotline: 1-833-697-4829.
In New York City, Walgreens, Duane Reed, Rite Aid and Costco are receiving vaccines from the federal government to administer to eligible New York City residents this week. CVS will open bookings on Feb. 9 and have 32 locations in 15 communities across the state doing vaccinations. Initial supplies will be limited and appointments will most likely be extremely difficult to get.
Temporary vaccination clinics have been set up for seniors at Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville, alongside more than 35 other temporary pop-up locations. The City announced on Thursday Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights will be turned into one of the city’s largest vaccination centers by Feb. 24, vaccinating up to 3,000 people per day.
On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was a high likelihood of Barclays Center becoming a vaccination center in the near future. Other sports stadium, including Yankee Stadium and Mets’ Citi Field are being used as vaccination centers.
Experts have estimated between 70% and 90% of the population needs to be vaccinated or to acquire resistance to the coronavirus in order to reach herd immunity.
Although there remains a significant amount of vaccine skepticism in the community due to many factors, including a lack of outreach, lack of trust in the vaccine’s development and history, health officials are urging the community to get vaccinated.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker says he has full confidence the vaccine is safe and effective.
“When it’s your turn I urge you to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19. To stop the spread now, continue to follow all health guidelines,” he urged. “Together we will beat this virus.”
In part-one of this series, BK Reader talked to Brooklynites to hear their thoughts on the vaccine.
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