Community Board 10 members raised concerns about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton during a meeting Jan. 14.
The board’s Senior Issues, Housing, Health and Welfare Committee told representatives of NYU Langone, NYC Health and NYC Test and Trace Corps that there are an inadequate number of distribution sites in the area.
Theresa Doherty of NYC Test and Trace Corps said her organization is continually assessing existing sites to see how they are faring.
“We are looking where the highest needs are, particularly for the age groups, other high needs groups, where we may need to put up those locations,” Doherty said. “So there are constantly people going out there assessing those sites.”
CB 10 member Iris Mule said the board’s coverage area has the third-highest concentration of older adults in New York City.
“We look at access particularly for older adults who may have a more difficult time traveling outside of the community,” Mule said.
CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said there are some smaller private distribution locations in the area at which residents have signed up but not one large central site.
Marianne Nicolosi of the Bay Ridge Center said distribution to seniors has to be addressed.
“Our agency is more than willing for us to be a site,” Nicolosi said. “Considering the highest risk population are those over 65, it appears as though the city and Department of Health has not coordinated a system that can help that particular population.”
Letters were also read from local residents. One Bay Ridge resident said he spent 14 hours online and on the phone arranging an appointment in Bensonhurst and is worried about availability of the vaccine.
“A lot of our seniors do not have support, do not have internet, [and are] waiting patiently on the phone for hours trying to connect with people,” said CB 10 member Jill Hajjar. “I’m hoping that all of our hospitals and people supporting hospitals hire more people to accommodate the older people who are frustratingly waiting to get a person on the phone.”
Anna Shats of New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was asked if the vaccine could be administered inside a senior’s home.
“The mRNA vaccine makes it hard,” she said. “The vaccine can’t just be transported in a way other vaccines are. You can’t just put it in a bag and go anywhere … There needs to be the cooling and thawing of it to administer it.”