Five vaccine hubs are expected to be relocated once middle school students return to in person classes next week, a city Health Department spokesperson confirmed Tuesday to Gothamist. But the health department has not yet decided where or when replacement sites will open. Two of the affected hubs are situated in the Bronx, two in Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn. All are situated at high schools that also have middle school programs:
- Walton High School in the Kingsbridge Heights section of the Bronx
- Adlai Stevenson High School in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx
- Marta Valle High School on the Lower East Side
- Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Harlem
- George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School in Downtown Brooklyn
Three sites set to be moved — Walton, Wadleigh, and Adlai — are in neighborhoods where the partial vaccination rate is lower than the citywide median citywide, according to geographic data on vaccination rates city health officials released Tuesday. The ZIP codes where those hubs are located have one-dose vaccination rates of 5.2% to 5.9%, just below the median rate citywide of 6.2%. Relocations from the Marta Valle and George Westinghouse are in ZIP codes where partial vaccination rates are slightly higher than the citywide median.
All appointments will be honored at their new sites, but the vaccine seekers affected by the change haven't been notified by the city yet. People with appointments scheduled at the five hubs will eventually be notified of the location change, the spokesperson said.
The department spokesperson said city officials are doing their “best to locate them near the original sites” and new spots would be finalized in the coming days.
Seventy-eight-year-old Alan Gewirtzman was anxious about losing his second dose appointment at Harlem’s Wadleigh school once he heard middle schools would reopen on February 25th. He and his wife already had their first doses delayed a week after city hubs closed due to a lack of adequate supplies.
“I’m really pissed about this whole thing because it’s like the city is covering it up, basically,” the Upper West Sider told Gothamist, citing an infuriating lack of public information about the new site locations. “I’m terribly frustrated by the whole thing.”
He couldn’t find anyone at the city Health Department to speak to and confirm what would happen to his second-dose appointment and discovered through his local councilmember’s office that the Wadleigh site would close. He preemptively made an appointment elsewhere. But now his second booking, at Marta Valle High School, is also going to be relocated.
It is unclear how many first and second-dose appointments will be relocated to new sites. The city Health Department did not confirm when exactly they’d be relocated. Middle schools reopen on February 25th.
The site relocations hint at the logistical hurdles that city officials face to operate a massive vaccination program while simultaneously reopening during the pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to vaccinate 5 million New Yorkers by June. So far, one in 10 city residents has received at least one dose of the two-shot vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, de Blasio said, above all, ample dosages would smooth out the vaccine campaign.
“It is something very frustrating when supply keeps changing and we can’t create that steadiness, that momentum that people want to feel,” the mayor said.