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New York Battling COVID-19 with Round-the-Clock Mass Vax Facilities

NEW YORK – Authorities are looking to bolster the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the United States’ largest metropolis, inaugurating several facilities in New York City that will be open 24 hours a day in a bid to inoculate the largest possible number of people.

One of these so-called “mass vax” sites is the Brooklyn Army Terminal Annex Building, which has the capacity to vaccinate 2,000 individuals daily.

“It’s been incredible. In a typical clinic, you see pretty high no-show rates (among people who have made appointments) depending on the setting. We’ve seen very, very low no-show rates especially during the day,” the medical director of New York City’s community centers for coronavirus vaccination and testing, Jonathan Jimenez, said of the response at that facility.

“It’s been really remarkable. People want to get vaccinated and we’re just really excited to be able to provide it.”

Located in the Sunset Park neighborhood on the southwest side of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Army Terminal Annex Building is a open-air facility made up of about 30 small pods. In each pod, one worker registers patients’ information in a computer and another explains the procedure in detail and injects the vaccine.

The newly inoculated individuals then move to an observation area to ensure they have not experienced any worrying side effects. After 15 minutes have elapsed, they are free to leave.

That center in Brooklyn is one of two facilities that began operating around the clock on Monday, the other being a mass vax site in the Bronx.

Although the number of patients has not yet hit maximum levels (due to restrictions on which categories of people are eligible to receive the vaccine in these early phases of the rollout), numerous individuals already have been inoculated during the pre-dawn hours.

The center currently has 10 two-person teams operating during the day and three at night. But it has the capacity for 27 teams to operate simultaneously, each able to vaccinate around five people an hour.

Tallying up the figures, Jimenez said the center “definitely” has the ability to vaccinate around 2,000 people per day, though adding that the goal is to carry out even more daily inoculations.

“I think that 2,000 represents probably close to the maximum of what we could do here. But again, that’s also based on assumptions of about five people an hour,” Jimenez said, adding that it might be possible to boost efficiency.

One of those fortunate to have received the vaccine at that mass vax facility is Auburn Heller, a 29-year-old speech therapist who teaches in-person classes to students with autism.

Heller, who like all patients had to make an appointment, said she feels very relieved and fortunate to be one of the nearly 240,000 New Yorkers to have received at least one of the two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

Of that total, only 23,000 people have received both doses.

Vaccines are being distributed around the city much faster than they are being administered to individuals, with 430,000 doses still being stored in freezers at hospitals and vaccination centers.

To help rectify the problem, new mass vax sites will start operating around the clock this week in Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens, thereby extending those mega-centers to all of the city’s five boroughs.

Each of those three new facilities will be able to vaccinate thousands of people per day when operating at maximum capacity.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday at his daily press briefing that the biggest mass vax center of all will be the one located at Citi Field, a stadium in Queens that is home to the New York Mets baseball team.

“This is going to be fantastic. This is going to help so many people to get vaccinated. We welcome Queens residents, we welcome all New Yorkers, we even welcome Yankees fans. There’s no discrimination,” he joked in reference to the Mets’ crosstown rivals.

The Citi Field mega-center will open during the week of Jan. 25 and vaccinate an estimated 5,000-7,000 people per day.

That news was announced on the same day that the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, said the list of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has been expanded for the second time in a week and now covers people 65 and over and those with compromised immune systems.

Earlier, vaccines had been made available to several other groups of people, including health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, teachers, police and firefighters, public transit workers and people 75 and older.

More than 160 coronavirus vaccination centers are currently in operation across the metropolis’ five boroughs.


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