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Appointment-making frustration and waiting on vaccine supply in Manhattan | amNewYork

Appointment-making frustration and waiting on vaccine supply in Manhattan

Seventy folding chairs to hold vaccine recipients while they wait 15 minutes to see if they have a reaction.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY TEQUILA MINSKY

It’s the uncertainty of when and where a vaccine will be available that is incredibly anxiety producing. The anecdotal testimonies are vast. 

Soho resident Jeffery Rowland, over 65, wrote on his FB page: The news keeps telling me to get a COVID19 vaccine shot …but hours and hours of time spent trying has yielded no appointment yet. Much more difficult than I hoped.” 

Lee McClure also has had no luck securing an appointment from the government designated website.  This lower Manhattan resident has skeptically spotted dozens of people who, in spite of the “By Appointment Only” sign, waited in line at the Worth Street mega vaccine site hoping a no-show will open up a spot. “It’s beyond frustrating.” 

Countless seniors trying to score a vaccine appointment share these experiences. 

Mayor DeBlasio responded to call-ins on WNYC’s weekly Ask the Mayor segment with Brian Lehrer last Friday, offering numerous apologies for poor service on the website (wait-time and site crashing),  the need to improve service and promises to make the website more user friendly.  The mayor repeated an oft-heard reality; there just isn’t enough vaccine supply. 

The City’s appointment website is vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or call 877-VAX-4NYC.

Furthermore, the amount of vaccine allocations varies week to week.

When a neighborhood pharmacy like Bigelow uses its cache, it can’t schedule until it knows how much and when supply is coming— thus, a waiting list. 

According to the COVID-19 Tracker Site, New York State received 320,525 first doses last week and 268,800 second doses.  In eight weeks, the number of cumulative doses received is 2,808,823.

Scoring an appointment takes perseverance and LUCK. Retired nurse, Desiree Perez Rodriguez visited appointment websites six times before she found an 11 pm opening last Sunday night at the Worth Street site for her husband. “They were very efficient, “ she said. Southbridge resident Carl Feinman got an available appointment at a Baptist Church in Brooklyn after many website visits. Keep trying, and sometimes there are cancellations. 

Friends passing along information word-of-mouth about lesser-known sites with openings is how Kips Bay resident Marilyn Stern got her jab in Bushwick or Penn South resident Meryl Meisler scheduled an appointment at a nearby Rite Aid. Greenwich House also recently sent out an email to members with vaccination sites tips including Bellvue, a CVS site link, and for vets registered at— the V.A. Hospital. 

It’s still so haphazard; it’s a crapshoot. And, to add to the confusion, there is more than one system.  

A local blog posted a volunteer-generated list of some vaccine sites:  nycvaccinelist.com

Meanwhile, Alex Hellinger, Executive Director of Lenox Health Greenwich Village says,  “We’re ready to go!” speaking of the transformed fifth floor in the 7th Ave. Village health facility waiting for vaccine allocation. 

Light flows into the portal windows of this airy renovated 10,000-foot space, one of the largest vaccine sites in lower Manhattan.

Nurses at twenty-two nursing stations will administer the vaccines— about six per hour at each.  An observation area holds 70-distanced folding chairs where vaccine recipients will wait 15 minutes to see if there is any reaction. 

Prepared to vaccinate 10 hours a day, on weekdays to start and open on weekends, “We’ll ramp up as needed,” Hellinger explains. In the beginning, Hellinger estimates they could handle about 88 vaccine-seekers per hour, almost 1,000 a day. Hours are dependent on vaccine allotment.  

Ready to start, it’s just waiting for the vaccine.

Alex Hellinger, Executive Director of Lenox Health/ Greenwich Village with the team that helped put everything together from construction to the clinical process and logistics.
Lenox Health GV Northwell Health Vaccine Center site with Exec. Director Alex Hellinger.
The first step, getting your temperature taken.
Seventy folding chairs to hold vaccine recipients while they wait 15 minutes to see if they have a reaction.
Twenty-two nurses stations where vaccines will be administered.

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