New York City Launches COVID Vaccine Pop-Ups For Kids 5-11 At Schools, But For Some, Wait Times Prove Frustrating
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City schools launched pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites Monday for children ages 5 to 11.
More than 1,000 sites will open this month at schools across the city, and the Pfizer shots are administered by trained medical professionals, CBS2's John Dias reported.
"Overall, I guess I just have a little jump in my step," said Sylvan Booudo, a student who was vaccinated. "I'm now just able to do way more things."
Students must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult designated by one. Vaccination records are kept strictly confidential, and no appointment is needed.
"What we're seeing is unprecedented demand at certain school's sites," said city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.
"If we have a school where there's parents that really want to get their kids vaccinated right at that school, we honor that, we love that. We will get not only more supply there immediately today, but will add another day in the coming days ahead," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter said parents are easing into the vaccines, too.
"As our older children got vaccinated, adults got vaccinated. I think the parents of our younger children are feeling a lot more comfortable," Porter said.
Some students and their parents were so eager, they signed up even before their school site opened.
"I constantly always think he can get sick and then I can still get sick," said Janae Major from Chelsea.
For the Lawrence family, doing it at school was important.
"He's been here since kindergarten, I believe, so it's like family for him," Terrence Lawrence said.
"I thought it would be worse, but it was actually pretty fun. It felt like a bee sting," 9-year-old Mason Lawrence added.
Since Thursday, almost 17,000 kids ages 5-11 in the city have been vaccinated, de Blasio's office said.
Moving forward, the mayor says every city worker and contractor will get an additional four hours of sick leave per child per shot to get their kids vaccinated. A proposed bill would extend the benefit to the private sector.
"You shouldn't have to choose between your paycheck and the health of your family," de Blasio said.
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But while there were many success stories, some young children waited an awful long time to get the jab, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.
Outside Public School 40 on East 19th Street, a line went around the block at times. Bianca Beleffi, 11, said she waited six hours to get the shot.
Some waited even longer.
"We've been waiting this long, we're not going to give up at this point," parent Stefanie Wotton said.
"We had to wake up really early," 11-year-old Nate Wotton added.
Parents said one vaccination van was hours late, and didn't even arrive with doses at first. Shannon Spiegel said she ended up calling out of work to hold a spot for her 5-year-old.
"This was just horrendously executed," Spiegel said.
"It was complicated," Damiano Beleffi added.
The city said four sites were delayed in getting supplies, but there were lines outside at least a dozen schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
At a Chelsea school, after 100 shots were administered, an email to parents said there will be "no additional walk-ins."
Some parents told Rozner they filled out paperwork last week so the city could get a handle on the demand, so it's not clear why some sites were not prepared.
The situation was even more frustrating for 11-year-old Colette Turkoz and her mother, Courtney Frank, in Brooklyn.
"They said they were gonna start at 7 and end at 11 and they started two hours late and ended an hour early," 11-year-old Colette told CBS2's Jessica Layton.
"I mean, I was pretty irate. I was like, no, we're not leaving here without a vaccine," Frank added.
But they had no choice. After waiting two hours, they and two dozen other families were turned away from the middle school site in Boerum Hill.
On Monday night, the school sent a note to families apologizing for the problems.
De Blasio later acknowledged the situation, but seemed to downplay the problems.
"Things went really well in the schools by and large. We found about a dozen or so schools where there are some issues, so we're addressing those immediately, getting additional vaccine to schools that need them, giving them another day of vaccine activity," de Blasio said.
Frank said she will be taking her daughter to get vaccinated at a private facility in Midtown on Tuesday. They said the long-awaited protection and peace of mind simply can't wait another day.
"I think it'll be really exciting because then I'll feel like I can go places more and see more people," Colette said.
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While Mayor-elect Eric Adams has said kids may be able to stop wearing masks in school by the end of the school year, de Blasio said it's premature to say for sure.
"I'd love to free our kids and educators and staff from it, but right now it's too soon," de Blasio said.
"We'll make a determination at the time when enough is enough, because I'm very anxious to let the kids be liberated from these," Gov. Kathy Hochul said of masks.
Kids who get vaccinated at school will have to find a new location for their second dose. These sites are only offering an initial shot to get them started.
The mayor encouraged parents and guardians with questions about the vaccine to call 212-COVID19. Visit nyc.gov/vaccinefinder to schedule an appointment and schools.nyc.gov/covid19 to see when shots will be offered at schools.
CBS2's Lisa Rozner and Jessica Layton contributed to this report. This story first appeared on Nov. 8.
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