More than 10,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to children ages 5 to 11 at New York City public schools Monday and Tuesday, the first two days that the shots were available on campus.
“We’re reaching so many kids, making families safe,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Wednesday morning.
The city’s school vaccination effort had some hiccups as it launched on Monday as a handful of schools did not have enough supply to meet demand and families had to be turned away. But officials pledged to increase supply and deploy mobile vaccination vans as needed.
The mayor said nearly 4,500 students were vaccinated at school on Monday and 5,800 on Tuesday. The school-based clinics will continue through at least Monday. “Then we’re going to keep adding if we see places that need more,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to keep shifting personnel and vaccine to the sites where there’s a lot of demand.”
Demand has ranged, often mirroring vaccination rates across the city. Some Bronx principals reported one or two dozen participants, while some schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn saw lines wrapped around the block. Maureen Farrell Herzog, a parent at PS 40 in Manhattan, waited eight hours on Monday to get shots for her children.
But by Tuesday, it appeared some of the bumps in the school distribution process had been ironed out.
At a school in Harlem Tuesday morning, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter cheered on students at Central Park East School as they got their shots in Harlem. Twins Taylor and Tiana Russ said they were excited and scared, respectively. But their mom Chantel Russ said, after losing six relatives to the virus, she wanted her children inoculated.
“I beat COVID,” Taylor said triumphantly after her injection.
Regina Drew got her 10-year-old daughter vaccinated at PS 163 on the Upper West Side on Tuesday. “It went very smoothly,” she said. “There was no waiting. It was not crowded at all. … I really am grateful to the department of education and the school for making it so easy.”
The de Blasio administration has promised to offer shots at more than 1,000 schools for children under 12, serving about 400,000 students, through Monday. Kids must be accompanied by an adult and have verbal or written consent from a guardian. Families will also receive information about how to redeem the $100 prepaid debit cards the city is giving out as incentives and schedule for a second dose at a non-school site.
Shots are also available at doctors’ offices, city-run clinics, and pharmacies. By Wednesday, a total of more than 31,300 children ages 5 to 11 had gotten their first shots, out of a total population of about 660,000, officials said. That’s since the city first began offering vaccinations last Thursday.