Officials share concerns about vaccination process

January 29, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
Officials share concerns about vaccination process
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While qualified people struggle to get the COVID-19 vaccine, local elected officials are pushing to make it more easily available in areas with a large number of senior citizens.

On Jan. 14, Councilmembers Justin Brannan and Mathylde Frontus and State Senator Andrew Gounardes wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking for help.

“Most of our senior constituents do not drive, and many live on their own without the assistance of family members,” the lawmakers wrote. “They cannot drive to either site, and they are not willing to risk a long trip on public transportation because of their vulnerable high-risk status. These seniors have been cooped up inside for the last year, avoiding human contact, and wanting desperately to get back to living without fear of COVID.”

On Monday, Jan. 25, de Blasio stressed that there is a limited amount of vaccine, saying the city currently has 19,000 first doses on-hand and was expecting 107,000 more in the next few days.

“But [that number] doesn’t even give us the beginning of what we need for a week,” de Blasio said. “We have a supply problem and we have a flexibility problem, because we can’t access second doses that are being held in reserve for weeks ahead and use them now as first doses where there’s such intense demand.”

Brannan described the situation as the “chicken vs. the egg.”

“If we had more vaccines, we’d have more locations,” he said. “We have more locations ready to go. We just don’t have vaccines.”

On Monday, Jan. 19, U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis encouraged veterans who are eligible to contact the Brooklyn VA Medical Center to schedule an appointment to be immunized as soon as possible.

“My office has been in constant communication with both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s offices to ensure our community receives an adequate number of vaccine doses,” she said. “We have seen some improvement in our state’s distribution process. However, there is still work to be done to improve the experience for constituents seeking vaccination. I’m glad steps have been taken so those who have served our country are being prioritized for immunization.”

Councilmember Mark Treyger has also called on the de Blasio administration to provide a comprehensive plan to vaccinate homebound seniors and increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, Gounardes and Assemblymember Charles Fall, who represents parts of Staten Island, introduced a bill that would speed up the process for public workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The legislation would ensure that workers get four hours off their jobs in order to get vaccinated, they said.

“Our public workers have pulled us through this crisis,” Gounardes said. “They should not have to take personal time or negotiate with an employer to get this important medical care, but rather must have guaranteed time off so they can get vaccinated to protect themselves and their families.”

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