The city will not open a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Coney Island’s MCU Park because of technical issues with the venue — but health honchos are now considering opening an inoculation hub at the neighborhood’s New York Aquarium, according to a local politico.
“I’m told they will send a crew to inspect the infrastructure there, just like they did with MCU Park,” Councilmember Mark Treyger told Brooklyn Paper on Feb. 16.
City health officials first considered using the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones as the first vaccine center south of Sunset Park in January, but inspectors ruled the location out because of its incompatible electrical system, Treyger said.
Now officials will reportedly conduct a walk-through inspection of the nearby aquarium, which Treyger hailed as an ideal location because of its sprawling outdoor space.
Representatives for the New York Aquarium said they didn’t have information about the city’s plan to open a vaccination site. A spokesman for the Department of Health neither confirmed nor denied the report.
“We continue to seek creative new ways to provide vaccinations to New Yorkers where they are,” said Patrick Gallahue. “As new sites are able to come online — which is supply dependent — we will continue to announce them.”
Southern Brooklyn currently houses only a handful of city- and state-run vaccination sites, including a mass vaccine hub at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, a state-run hub at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, and a vaccination program at Coney Island Hospital, which is operated by the city.
New Yorkers over 65 can also get a jab at private practices and pharmacies, such as Rite Aid and Walgreens, with appointments booked on the city’s vaccine tracker. To hasten the vaccine’s rollout among seniors, officials have also set up clinics outside Warbasse Houses in Coney Island and a retirement home in Manhattan, and will continue adding small vaccination centers to senior homes across the Five Boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week.
The Department of Health will also begin sending health workers to the homes of homebound seniors to inoculate them against the virus when the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets delivered sometime in March, the mayor said.
The efforts come after a slow start to the city’s vaccination rollout. A shortage of vaccines has forced inoculation hubs to temporarily close, even as the state opens new sites and expands eligibility. As of Sunday, New Yorkers with underlying health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, or obesity, are eligible for the vaccine.
As of Tuesday morning, just 2,380 residents living in the 11224 zip code, which covers Coney Island, have received their first dose — leaving 94 percent of residents who have not gotten the injection. Citywide, 411,706 adult New York residents have received at least one dose, and 303,709 have received both, according to city data.
Meanwhile, the city and state’s confusing scheduling systems have made it difficult for residents — and particularly seniors — to make appointments. Seniors have complained that the city’s vaccine finder will say that no appointments are available without allowing them to sign up for a waitlist, while others have struggled to make appointments at state-run pop-up sites because of last minute scheduling changes.
But despite the vaccine shortage and the scheduling issues, de Blasio stood behind the city’s effort to continue opening vaccination hubs.
“This is the kind of effort we need to get down to the grassroots and get to folks who need help the most,” the mayor said on Tuesday. “We believe in having as many vaccination sites as possible, as deeply into communities as possible. That’s how we fight disparity, that’s how we address the horrible inequities we’ve seen throughout this crisis.”