NYC prepping to set up mass vaccination centers in each borough

Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine are ready to be administered at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 16, 2020.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The city is preparing to set up five mass vaccination centers across — one in each of the five boroughs —pending state approval to ramp up vaccination efforts. 

Once approved, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday, the first two potential centers could be created as soon as this weekend. Officials have spaces lined up for three boroughs –the Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx, Brooklyn Army Terminal Annex Building and in La Marqueta in Manhattan–with Queens and Staten Island sites still being determined. 

City health officials said Monday the city would draw from the Medical Reserve Corp if need be in order to help staff forthcoming vaccination centers. 

Officials plan to keep the potential sites open 24 hours a day seven days a week, de Blasio said, in order to administer a combined 100,000 doses of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines a week to New Yorkers in an appropriate vaccination group. At the moment, New York state is still in phase 1a of its vaccine distribution plan meaning only nursing home residents, staff, and health care workers with a “high risk” of contracting the virus are receiving the vaccine. 

Just over 118,300 New York City residents have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since vaccine shipments arrived in the city early last month and 756 have received their second shot, according to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker. About 480,500 vaccine doses have been relieved in the city and 585,850 are currently reserved for the city. 

The mass vaccination centers are part of the mayor’s plan to take on a “herculean” effort of administering one million doses of  COVID-19 vaccines to New York City residents by the end of this month. In order to do that, the city is expanding the number of sites where New Yorkers can obtain either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine from its current 125 locations to 250.  

Late last month, de Blasio announced that all of the city’s Test and Trace sites would become vaccination sites and on Monday he announced that the first in a series of “ vaccination hubs” would open this weekend in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. 

De Blasio pleaded for the federal government to help New York City, and the state as a whole, speed up vaccine distribution by reinstating the Defense Production Act and approving the use of pre-filled syringes with the vaccine. 

In addition, Mayor de Blasio urged Washington to pan all incoming flights from the United Kingdom in order to slow the spread of a new COVID variant, which has no official been found in New York, which popped up in southern England late last fall. 

“We should all be worried about this not because it is more deadly but because it spreads faster,” said de Blasio. “We need the federal government to step up here.”