Shot of hope: Brooklynites get vaccinated at Medgar Evers College

A member of the National Guard helps an elderly visitor into the newly opened vaccine site at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights on Feb. 24.
Photo by Caroline Ourso

The mass-vaccination hub at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights finally started inoculating some of Brooklyn’s most vulnerable on Feb. 24.

The site, operated by a partnership between the state and federal governments, has the capacity to administer 3,000 shots a day to those in select zip codes. Allocation is currently earmarked for “socially vulnerable” communities, specifically zip codes in the immediate area, many of which are among the least vaccinated areas in New York, according to city data.

On Wednesday, thousands of Brooklynites lined up to get their jabs — some getting there as early as before 8 am. The line stretched down and around the vaccination center on Crown Street for much of the morning before tapering off in the afternoon.

Members of the United States Air Force assisted seniors in and out of the site and administered the shots, while FEMA staff helped sign-up those eligible who showed up without appointments.

Locals who got the shot expressed immense joy and encouraged others to do the same. 

“It’s a relief, and it’s a step in the right direction,” said Crown Heights resident Abdul King, 65, after exiting the vaccination site and embracing his wife Lidya. “Go out there and get your shot and do it right away, no vaccine hesitation, it’s nice, quick and easy.” 

Crown Heights residents Abdul and Lidya King after Abdul received his vaccine on Feb. 24 at Medgar Evers College.Photo by Ben Verde

Vaccine-receivers Brooklyn Paper spoke with outside the hub reported a smooth process aided by the large military presence, and relative ease booking appointments, with the site’s high capacity creating a wealth of available appointments. Medgar Evers also allows walk-in bookings, making it the first site in all of New York City to do so. 

After booking an appointment online with his wife, 69-year-old East Flatbush resident Angel Cruz showed up to the sprawling educational facility on Wednesday afternoon. Despite a technical hiccup wherein his wife received an email saying her appointment was canceled, they both showed up and both managed to receive the shot.

“They didn’t have us on record, but they let us go through anyway,” said Cruz. “It was pretty easy.”

The shot, Cruz added, was quick and painless. 

“Get it, there’s nothing to it, there’s absolutely nothing to it,” he said. “I didn’t even feel it, the injection itself, and I’m not crazy about injections.” 

FEMA employees direct foot traffic in front of the newly opened vaccine site at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights on Wed., Feb. 24.Photo by Caroline Ourso

Clinton Hill resident Rosie Ngo made the choice to get vaccinated despite having a number of allergies to medications that could put her into anaphylactic shock. After waiting 30 minutes for observation, instead of the required 15, she said she was feeling fine.  

“Essentially where I landed was, they know how to treat anaphylactic, which is life-threatening, but doctors don’t know how to treat coronavirus, so that was my deciding factor,” she said. 

Ngo, who qualified for the vaccine by having the genetic blood disorder Thalassemia, said she was feeling emotional after getting the jab, and even got the autograph of the service member who administered the shot as a memento.

“I just feel incredibly relieved to be on this path,” she said. “I’m feeling really emotional to be honest, it’s been so terrifying.”

The Medgar Evers College site will eventually open to all Brooklynites, with registration slated to open at 8 am Feb. 27 for eligible residents of all borough zip codes.

To book an appointment, go to www.vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or call 1-877-VAX-4NYC.