Parents trickled in and out of a Times Square clinic Wednesday morning as they rushed to get their infants and toddlers COVID-19 vaccines on opening day of the New York City health department’s rollout.

But early supplies appear relatively low for young children. When New York State launched its initial rollout for adults in December 2020, it had 170,000 doses on hand. According to officials, around 60,000 pediatric doses had been ordered statewide for kids under 5 during this opening stanza.

No lines were visible around a dozen vaccination booths separated by black cloth, but early arrivals — such as Jay Wain — waited an hour for the first bookings, mainly due to the processing steps.

Wain, who is 39 years old and from the Upper West Side in Manhattan, arrived around 10 a.m to obtain shots for her daughters — Amara, 5, and Ellora, 2. The youngsters were wearing matching red flower dresses and clutching onto their stuffed animals that they brought for comfort.

“I thought there would be a lot of people queuing up this morning, but it’s quieter than I had thought,” Wain said.

The city health department is supplying Moderna shots toits 10 pediatric sites across the five boroughs. But some parents faced difficulties with scheduling appointments via the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder website on Tuesday — the day the Adams administration had planned to open up slots.

New York City health commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said at the opening that the city had received about 20,000 pediatric shots as of Wednesday morning, which carry a smaller dosage than the adult versions of the vaccine. He is expecting more batches to come on a rolling basis. Health department spokesperson Patrick Gallahue told Gothamist Wednesday afternoon that the first shipment landed over the weekend, and additional ones had already started to arrive for distribution across the city.

Jay Wain, 39 from Upper West Side, with her two daughters, Amara, 5, and Ellora, 2.

On Friday, the New York State Department of Health told Gothamist that vaccine providers outside of the city had only placed preliminary orders for 39,300 doses. More than 500,000 kids under the age of 5 live in the city, and about 1.1 million statewide, according to state health officials. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden called out Congress for not renewing federal funding for the pandemic, which has limited supplies for the current vaccine rollout.

City-run vaccination sites will be open for the next two months to meet initial demand, Vasan said. As Gothamist previously reported, these municipal hubs will offer the new doses to any kids between 6 months and 5 years old — the latest eligibility group to receive sign off from the federal government. Pharmacies, meanwhile, cannot vaccinate kids under the age of 3. Pediatricians are also offering the shots.

Wain said she made sure to come on the first day pediatric vaccines were available because her family is traveling to the United Kingdom, where she is from, next month. Knowing that her daughters will have immunity from the coronavirus will give her more comfort and less anxiety during the trip, she said.

We’ve been waiting for this moment for a very, very, very long time.
Allyson Greenwald

After her eldest daughter got her vaccination shot without a hitch, Wain said she thought she would be more emotional thanks to the freedom afforded by the vaccinations. But such feelings were slightly dampened by the long wait, Wain said. “Because the kids are feeling a bit cranky about it, I haven’t really had a chance to give much thought to how I feel right now, but I’m sure it’ll hit me when I get home,” she said.

The most important thing on Wain’s mind was getting her daughters the lollipops she had promised them after the vaccine shot, she said.

Andrew and Allyson Greenwald from Hudson Heights were another set of parents at the Times Square vaccination site early Wednesday. Their 2-year-old daughter Penelope was born during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Andrew said he was not allowed to visit the post-partum floor due to the risk of exposure.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a very, very, very long time, and we certainly weren't going to wait for one more day,” Allyson said. She said she started crying after Penelope got her shot.

To warm up for this day, Andrew said that they have been pretending to give Penelope’s dolls vaccine shots.

“It was finally our turn,” Andrew said.