The Health Department announced that 12 additional hubs will open this week across the five boroughs, adding to the more than 125 sites that are currently operating citywide.
The three new hubs are located at South Bronx Educational Campus, Bushwick Educational Campus and Hillcrest High School. They will start with the capacity to vaccinate between 5,000 and 7,000 people per day. They will be open seven days per week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine must make an appointment online.
“In order to get the vaccination traffic we want, we will need to build on-ramps,” said Dr. Dave Chohski, the city’s health commissioner. “Facilities like these will be a route to immunity for thousands of New Yorkers.”
Currently, New Yorkers who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine include high-risk health care workers, staff and residents at long-term care facilities and other frontline staff in patient-facing roles.
On Monday, the next phase of people became eligible for the vaccine, including first responders and seniors 75 years and older.
The hubs are staffed by Health Department employees and trained volunteers through the Medical Reserve Corps, the department said.
“We need more New Yorkers to be eligible for the vaccine in order to quicken the pace of vaccination for the entire city,” Chokshi said.
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the state and federal government to not only open up the eligibility criteria so more people can get vaccinated, but also accelerate the speed of vaccine manufacturing to ensure New York City has the supply needed to reach all residents.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, de Blasio listed seven steps that he wanted the federal government to take, including providing advanced notice of allocation, FDA approval to pre-fill syringes with the vaccine, and flexibility with distribution populations.
The mayor also asked for a full travel ban from the United Kingdom to New York City due to the spread of the COVID-19 variant. New York’s first case of the new strain was first detected in Saratoga Springs earlier this month.
“We need to cut through red tape and get as many shots in arms as possible,” de Blasio said. “This is a race against the clock, and we need our state and federal partners to give us the flexibility and supply we need to reach the maximum number of people as quickly as possible.”
The city’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has not been without its critics, including Comptroller Scott Stringer. Last week, the mayoral candidate proposed a set of recommendations to the mayor to expedite the process and make use of every available dose.
The first recommendation, which the mayor later implemented, was administering the vaccine to standby lists of high-risk people in situations where bottlenecks or other delays come up.
Stringer also suggested developing a database that can be used to help the network of hospitals, community health centers, primary care physicians, pharmacists and urgent care clinics report and track demand and usage.
The comptroller called for increasing the city’s investment in public education and outreach campaigns for the vaccine, as well as enlisting community leaders and trusted agents to relay the message about the shot’s safety and efficacy.
“As the epicenter of the crisis, New York deserves all the help it can get,” Stringer wrote. “However, it is our obligation to do everything in our capacity to ensure the city’s role in the vaccine distribution is swift, equitable and organized.”
COVID_Vaccine_1: The city opened three COVID-19 vaccine hubs on Sunday with more to come. (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)
COVID_Vaccine_2: The hubs are staffed by Health Department staff and trained volunteers. (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)