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District 39

Brad Lander

Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park, Kensington

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now?

This information is ever changing, and we will keep you updated as best as we can here. As of April 1, 2021, all New Yorkers aged 30 and up (including incarcerated people) are now eligible to get vaccinated regardless of occupation or underlying health condition! Starting April 6, 2021, all New Yorkers aged 16 and up will become eligible as well. 

Over 12 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine, but only 23% of Brooklyn residents have been fully vaccinated. We have a long way to go, but we remain optimistic that everyone who wants to be vaccinated, including homebound people, will be vaccinated by the summer. 

How do I find and make an appointment?

Start here, at NYC’s Vaccine Finder, a one-stop site for NYC residents to find their nearest COVID-19 vaccination location and then schedule an appointment. Most sites are currently by appointment, but select sites may accept walk-ins depending on certain age criteria.

The network of sites can be confusing. Some are run by New York City, some by the State, some by other health care providers, some by pharmacies. Each site has its own system for making appointments. It really makes me wish that the U.S. had a national, universal health care system, which would make this all a lot easier. Still, I’ve talked to a lot of people who have found appointments, and even gotten their second dose.

If you need help with the online form, NYC has set up a vaccine appointment hotline at 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692) between the hours of 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., seven days a week. Someone will assist you to set up an appointment. We are aware of the long wait times for the help line. The City’s Health Department is actively working on a call-back system so that callers do not have to wait on the phone for hours, and so that you will be notified as appointments become available.

Are there enough appointments? 

Not even close. Millions of NYC residents are now eligible, and hundreds of thousands of people are trying to make appointments. Although more than 4 million doses have been administered to NYC residents so far, there are pockets of our City that still do not readily have access to the vaccine.  The NYC Health Department is working aggressively to open new locations (like the new 24/7 vaccine hub at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, which I visited on Sunday). Last month, the State added two new vaccine mega-sites, including one at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights. This site will be open for all eligible Brooklyn residents.

The City has established 15 vaccine sites in neighborhoods with the highest COVID positivity rates, yet the lowest vaccinated numbers. Each week’s supply of vaccine doses depends on many factors, most beyond our control. For example, this week, we heard reports of a decrease in Johnson & Johnson vaccine supplies due to a quality control issue by the manufacturer. . At the hearing last month, the City said they are aiming to adjust the registration system so it lets you know when new appointments are available, rather than you have to keep checking back in. Last week, the New York City Council unanimously sent a bill to the Mayor’s desk demanding a centralized, uniform vaccine appointment website. We’re still waiting on the Mayor to sign it into law. But for now, if there are no appointments available at nearby locations when you check the portal, we recommend that you try checking back the following day when more slots get added. 

We also encourage you to keep a close eye on popular aggregate data sites like TurboVax and NYC Vaccine List. These sites list every city-run vaccine hub in one convenient page and will update you every time new spots open up. 

What should I do before I go to a vaccination site?

You need to complete the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Form before your appointment. The person administering the vaccine is required to check that you completed the form before you can get vaccinated. If you are eligible for vaccination based on your job, you must bring proof of employment, such as an employee ID card, a letter from your employer or affiliated organization, or a recent pay stub to your appointment. If you are eligible for a vaccine based on your age, you must be able to show proof of age. If you are eligible due to an underlying health condition, you must bring a doctor’s note or medical documents corroborating your health condition. And of course, wear a mask when you go!

How many doses of the vaccines are available for New Yorkers?

As of April 1, 2021 

  • 4,782,035 doses have been delivered to NYC
  • 4,058,854 doses have been administered (84% of those delivered).
  • 2,175,891 NYC residents have received at least their first dose and over 1.2 million people are fully vaccinated. 
  • 1,335,575 doses were delivered to federal pharmacy programs 

Right now, the Federal government is shipping between 100,000 to 200,000 doses to New York City each week.  But if we get to 400,000 appointments per week, we will run out of doses very quickly. So we need the Federal government and the drug manufacturers to ramp up production quickly. It is encouraging that President Biden and his Covid-19 task force have focused aggressively on vaccine rollout.

You can keep track of the doses delivered and administered via the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

Shouldn’t we have a much more expansive outreach program for seniors (and everyone else?)

Yes, of course we should. Not everyone is a savvy internet user, has nearby family members or strong social ties, or gets their information from a reliable source. And of course, New Yorkers speak hundreds of languages, and have widely varying perspectives. We want everyone to get vaccinated. So we are going to need a massive public health outreach program.

The NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene talked about how they would be setting this up. They are beginning to have City staff and nonprofit partners call seniors (and we have launched our pilot program with the Neighbor Network to train a group of dedicated volunteers to reach out to seniors and make appointments on their behalf).. They are working with community-based organizations involved in Test + Trace outreach, and talking to the many additional CBOs who were part of the City’s aggressive and successful census outreach.

The City has recognized that many seniors have had a difficult time navigating the online appointment system. If you are aged 75 and over, you can simply show up to the Brooklyn Army Terminal without an appointment for a vaccine. Any eligible adult who accompanies a senior to this walk-in vaccine can also get vaccinated. 

Do I have to get my second dose of the vaccine at the same location?

Yes. When individuals go in for their first dose of the vaccine, they will be given an appointment date for their second dose at the same hub. The efficacy of the vaccine depends on your second booster shot, so we strongly recommend that you follow up with your second vaccine appointment. Please note that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.

Is the vaccine free?

Yes. The vaccine is free for everyone, including uninsured or undocumented individuals. If you have health insurance, your health insurance will cover any costs. Vaccine sites will never ask for credit card information, banking information, or social security numbers – so please remain vigilant about COVID-19 vaccine scams!

Why should I get vaccinated?

By getting vaccinated, you are helping protect yourself, your family and your friends. You are also helping make your community safer. In clinical studies, both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were more than 94% effective at protecting participants from COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 74% efficacy rate. In the United States, all vaccines have shown a 100% efficacy against hospitalizations and death from the virus. The vaccine does not contain the virus and therefore you cannot get COVID-19 from it. Learn more about the safety and effectiveness of the authorized vaccines.

Do I need to keep taking precautions after I am vaccinated?

Yes! Even after you are vaccinated, you will still need to practice these important COVID-19 prevention steps: staying home if you are sick, washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and keeping physical distance from others.

Positivity rates in the City continue to rise, and we all need to keep up our mask wearing and social distancing. I know it feels like we’re close to the finish line (and we are), but let’s finish this strong and continue to support and protect our fellow New Yorkers.

If some vaccine hubs are open 24/7, shouldn’t the subway be open 24/7?

Yes, it should! The Health Commissioner agreed at the Council’s Oversight hearing as well.  Evidence shows that the possibility of contact based transmission on the subway is much lower than what the CDC initially predicted (We are pushing for the MTA to restore overnight service.

Is there any way I can volunteer to help the vaccine rollout process?

Lots of you have asked whether you can volunteer to help out with vaccine distribution. Health care workers and City employees have opportunities to participate in distribution, but we are not aware of opportunities for the general public yet. In the coming weeks, keep an eye out in our newsletter for more updates on our Vaccine Navigator program with the Neighbor Network! We are looking for dedicated, tech-savvy volunteers who can guide seniors through the vaccine appointment systems. 

How do homebound people get access to the vaccine?

In partnership with the FDNY and the NYC Department of Aging, the City commenced a soft launch of its homebound vaccine program last month in Co-Op City in the Bronx and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. We expect that the program will fully take off by the end of April. City officials are currently in the process of calling the thousands of people who have already signed up for an in-home vaccine through the City’s interest form. You can sign up here. Please note that you must be fully homebound (i.e. you physically cannot leave your home to go to a vaccine site even with assistance and free transportation) to qualify for this program.