The vaccine rollout in New York has been marked with shortages and confusion, with those eligible finding the process of securing an appointment for the life-saving jab onerous and time-consuming.
Earlier this week, New York State made official the most sweeping expansion of eligibility for the vaccine since the first immunization was authorized in late December, allowing anyone with pre-existing conditions — such as asthma, cancer, kidney disease, intellectual and developmental disorders, pulmonary disease, or high blood pressure — to get the shot, as long as they bring an attestation to their appointment.
This ostensibly made approximately 4.5 million New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine. To present the process in the simplest of terms, Brooklyn Paper has prepared a guide on how to get the COVID-19 vaccine in Kings County.
Make sure you’re eligible
New York State’s rollout of the vaccine has been conducted in the following phases, with the state currently in Phase 1b. As of Feb. 18, New York City had administered 1,399,055 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
Healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.
Essential workers including school staff, grocery store workers, food service workers, and taxi drivers, as well as those over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions.
Expected to start between March and April, phase 1c will include all other essential workers and people with pre-existing conditions, the specifics of who exactly will qualify are yet to be determined by the state.
Phase 2 will see all New Yorkers qualify for the jab, with most predictions from the federal government stating this could happen during the late spring or early summer.
How to get the COVID-19 vaccine appointment
While both the city and state are pushing the vaccine as the key to recovery, critics claim they haven’t exactly made the process of securing an appointment easy. The city and state have separate websites for their separately run vaccination sites, and both have proved to be clunky and confusing, especially for the older and less technically inclined.
State-run sites in-and-around New York City include the Javits Center in Manhattan, the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and Jones Beach on Long Island. The city, on the other hand, is administering doses at dozens of hospitals and medical centers around the Five Boroughs.
Additionally, New Yorkers over 65 years of age can make appointments at some pharmacies like Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid and Costco using the city’s website and phone number.
To book an appointment at a state-run site, go to www.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or call 1-833-NYS-4-vax
To book an appointment at a city-run site, go to www.vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or call 1-877-VAX-4NYC
In response to the frustration New Yorkers have expressed in getting an appointment on either website, a volunteer has set up an independent website that more clearly displays where appointments are and are not available at turbovax.info. There is also www.nycvaccinelist.com.
In the meantime, the city is crafting a plan to vaccinate homebound seniors that will first require inoculating an army of home health aides to visit seniors and administer them the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose.
“We’ll reach them right there,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week. “These will be the beginning of a much bigger effort to reach homebound seniors in their own buildings.”
What you’ll need when you get there
The vaccine is 100 percent free, but you must come with proof of eligibility.
If you are eligible based on your age, you must show proof of age and New York residency. Proof of age may include: Driver’s license or non-driver ID.
If you’re eligible via your work, proof of employment is a must. This can include an employee ID card or badge, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on specific priority status.
If you’re one of the millions now eligible due to comorbidities, you do not need a doctor’s note (but with reports that patients have been wrongly turned away, if you have one — it won’t hurt). You will, however, have to sign a self attestation (be it this one from the state, or another version based on where your appointment is made for).
Keep trying. So far, the city has been delivered a total of 1,765,000 doses of the vaccine and has administered just over 80 percent of those. Each week, the federal government has been delivering more vials of the Pfizer and Moderna shots — and weekly supply has been steadily increasing.
Getting an appointment will require lots of perseverance and an even greater supply of luck. We know the process can be daunting, but with greater vaccine supply said to be on the horizon, we recommend refreshing, refreshing, refreshing. And, if there’s a phone number, keep calling.
Editor’s note: A version of this story originally ran in Brooklyn Paper. Click here to see the original story.
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