El Caribe opens as seniors-only vax site

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El Caribe in Mill Basin is expected to offer 1,000 appointments a day.

A vaccination site earmarked for the city’s senior population opened at a beloved Mill Basin catering hall on Thursday.

El Caribe on Feb. 25 joined a suite of other COVID-19 vaccination hubs across the Five Boroughs focused on inoculating the city’s elders. The Strickland Avenue venue began dolling out vaccines on Thursday, the same day Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the site, and is expected to offer 1,000 appointments per day to New Yorkers over the age of 65.

“We’re building more access points for people to get vaccinated and New Yorkers are rolling up their sleeves by getting the shot when their turn comes,” said a city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spokesperson. 

Southern Brooklyn is home to some of the zip codes with the highest positivity rates in the city, as well as some of the city’s highest populations of seniors. According to city data, people over the age of 65 make up 14.9 percent of the population in the geographic boundaries of Community Board 18, which stretches along the waterfront from Canarsie to Marine Park. The area also features one of the highest life expectancies in the borough, as residents live an average of 81 years

The El Caribe’s transition into a vaccination site comes as area politicians call on the city and state to increase vaccine access to the large elderly populations they represent. While the city has seen higher vaccine allocation at large, local politicians say their constituents are still struggling to register for the shot online, and many of those who do score an appointment are having to travel far and wide when it comes time to get the jab.

“We need to see the city putting in resources in those areas that need it most. My district needs it most,” Councilmember Chaim Deutsch previously told Brooklyn Paper.

Deutch represents Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, which records the second-highest seven-day positivity rate in the city and where 6 percent of adults are vaccinated, city statistics show. 

The El Caribe was established in 1982, and has served since then as a venue for a variety of events, from weddings and other celebratory receptions to political fundraisers for local elected officials, clubs and more.

Assemblymember Jaime Williams, whose district includes Mill Basin, Gerritsen Beach and a portion of Canarsie, commended the longstanding catering hall for opening its doors to help the community get through the pandemic. 

“The need to vaccinate is an urgency that can not be overlooked, the kindness of the El Caribe to offer their facility demonstrates the spirit of community that I am not only proud to represent but to also reside in,” Williams said. “I am confident that as more and more people get vaccinated we will be victorious; and we will look back on these heroes, such as the front line workers and the owners of the El Caribe with fondness and distinction.”

The 11234 zip code — which includes Mill Basin — recorded a 7.1 percent positivity rate for the coronavirus last week, and 7 percent of adults are fully-inoculated. As of Friday, vaccination sites close to or within Mill Basin were not offering appointments for the first of the two doses, and El Caribe is expected to fill that void.

Those 65 or over who live or work in New York City can schedule an appointment at El Caribe here

Are you searching for an appointment or being vaccinated at El Caribe? Contact Brooklyn Paper reporter Jessica Parks at [email protected].

Update (March 1 12:45 pm): This story has been updated to include additional information on where seniors can schedule an appointment at El Caribe.