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With Javits Closing, Where Does NYC Stand With COVID Vaccine And Variants?

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- For almost the entire length of the pandemic, the Jacob Javits Center stood as a symbol of what New York City needed to overcome.

Now, it's closing Friday, as the focus shifts to decentralized alternatives.

"A more decentralized approach is what works, especially in communities that we need to reach more deeply," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

The mayor says the way to get more vaccinations in to the arms of New Yorkers is to focus on in-home vaccinations, mobile units, pharmacies, doctor's offices and pop-up sites.

"The answer always is more vaccinations of our people, it's the way to protect our people," he said. "Nine and a half million doses now, 4.3 million New Yorkers fully vaccinated, 4.7 million have had at least one dose and we fully expect they'll get a second dose soon."

Watch: Mayor Bill De Blasio's Daily COVID Briefing 

As CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explains, the Tri-State Area is in pretty good shape, because it has a relatively high immunization rate. He spoke with CBS2's Dave Carlin about the naming of COVID variants and ways to avoid stigma or confusion.

"Early in the pandemic, COVID variants were named for the place where they were first identified... U.K., South Africa, Brazil, India, and so on. That led people to unfairly blame people in those locations, even though variants can pop up anywhere there's a virus circulating, and most are not significant," said Dr. Max. "The World Health Organization has now gone to identifying new variants by the Greek alphabet. In order, the U.K. strain is 'alpha,' South Africa 'beta,' Brazil 'gamma' and so on. We're now up to 'epsilon,' and there will be more. But only variants of concern or interest will get a Greek letter and will be investigated to see if they can evade present vaccines, are more transmissible, or cause more serious disease."

The Delta variant currently dominates.

"The issue is whether [the new variants are] sufficiently covered by present vaccines and treatments or whether they need new ones," Gomez said.


Back at the Javits Center, 15-year-old Andrew Choy, of the Upper East Side, got his vaccine jab.

"I think it's OK that they're closing up ... Not many people in there," he said. "There are enough other places."

He, his older brother, Chris, and mom, Sandy, said farewell to the huge vaccination site. Now what they have in common with 4.3 million other New York City residents is their second shots are done.

Other mass vaccination sites closing Friday include Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood and SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Thursday, July 8

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