According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the sites collectively vaccinated 3,100 people in one week. Other sites that opened include the Shelton Houses in Jamaica and the Sikh Cultural Society in South Richmond Hill.
The sites will reopen in three weeks to administer second doses to those who got their first shot in the arm.
“By setting up these sites and partnering directly with the leaders and organizations who are trusted voices in these communities,” Cuomo said in a statement, “we can simultaneously ensure access to the vaccine, while instilling confidence in it as well.”
Northeast Queens elected officials, including Congresswoman Grace Meng, State Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Councilman Paul Vallone, said in a joint statement that the KCS pop-up site will allow 500 residents to be vaccinated without traveling too far.
“While this is a welcomed first step,” they said, “we continue to implore Mayor de Blasio to open permanent vaccination locations throughout northeast Queens, an area with one of the largest senior populations in the city.”
Two days earlier, the same officials joined local civic associations, nonprofits and Community Board 11 in front of Commonpoint Queens Sam Field Center in Little Neck to call on the city to open permanent vaccination sites in the area.
They pointed out that the city has not opened any vaccination sites east of Union Street in Flushing or north of 82nd Road in Jamaica. Though the Citi Field site has now opened, officials said the location is still too far for their constituents.
“We understand the vaccine shortage has created logistical hurdles, but we cannot leave any communities behind when supply is eventually replenished and distributed,” Rozic said . “The expectation that seniors must travel long distances for the chance of immunization is unacceptable.”
Linda Lee, president and CEO of KCS in Bayside and a candidate for City Council, said northeast Queens neighborhoods are home to not only a large population of seniors, but also immigrants who make up a significant part of the essential workforce.
She said the transportation deserts, lack of language accessibility and the digital divide all present hurdles for residents to get vaccinated.
“Even those of us fluent in English with smart devices are scrambling to find appointments,” she said. “We can and must do so much more to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines.”
Mike Budabin, chair of Community Board 11, said his board has contacted the city’s Vaccine Command, and that officials have been “responsive and understanding of our situation.”
“We stand willing and able to volunteer to help find sites that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and large enough to serve our neighborhoods,” he said.