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New York City Health Officials Send COVID Vaccine Buses To Schools For 'NYC Youth VAX Week' Initiative

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A major push to get younger New Yorkers vaccinated started Friday.

Mobile vaccine sites will be popping up at public schools across New York City, bringing the vaccine directly to students.

As CBS2's John Dias reports, 12-year-old Francisca Machuca is now one of the youngest in New York City to be vaccinated.

"I'm scared about the coronavirus but not about the vaccine," the 6th grader said.

Machuca's school, the Bronx Writing Academy in Concourse Village, is one of three public city schools to host a pre-vacation vaccination party. It's a pilot program aimed at getting Pfizer's COVID vaccine in the arms of kids 12-17.


The city's schools chancellor stopped by the site.

"The young people are the people that create change in every generation, even in this vaccine time. We need young people to come out and get vaccinated," Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter said.

The event started in the Bronx, but the city has plans to deploy the pop-up sites to schools in the five boroughs.

"The place is safe. They know the school, they know the community," said Wanda Torres, senior director of operations at the United Federation of Teachers. "It definitely will ease the nervousness."

"Teachers are happy, not only because of their safety, but their children's safety. They want to teach and be here," Torres added.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is standing firm that come September, all public city schools will reopen and be back to normal: No more virtual or hybrid learning.

"I think it's really important to start philosophically with the point that we have to put COVID behind us, in our minds. It's almost over. It's time to go to the future," de Blasio said.

Health experts say a promising future would require herd immunity, with more than half of New York City adults fully vaccinated. The city could get to the finish line with the help from kids 12-17 getting vaccinated.

"Herd immunity for the city is going to be critical, and when we think about how this city is going to recover, it will mean having these kids vaccinated," said Lesleigh Irish-Underwood of MetroPlus health.

The pop-up vaccine sites are also available to the community. It will return in three weeks for everyone to get their second shot, which is the last day of school, and a good way to kick the summer vacation.

It's all part of what the city is calling, "NYC Youth Vax Week."

From schools to saloons, the city has another idea to grab the attention of younger crowds who are old enough to drink: Hosting vaccine "block parties" outside popular nightlife areas in each borough.

Buses providing the Pfizer vaccine already made appearances in Bushwick, Astoria and the Lower East Side.

"For 'zillenials,' New Yorkers up to 25, we are going to meet them where they are, and a lot of times that means meeting them at a nightlife venue, a bar, someplace popular for people to gather," the mayor said. "So we're parking our vaccine buses at popular nightlife destinations."

This comes as demand for COVID vaccines dwindles across the country.

The Biden administration announced plans to donate 80 million doses globally by the end of June, with the first 25 million going out as quickly as possible.

"We want to save lives and thwart variants that place all of us at risk," said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.


The White House says three-quarters of the country's donated doses will be shared with countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa through the United Nations-backed program COVAX.

"But ultimately the United States will have the authority to say the doses are going here, as opposed to there. But that will be done in very close consultation, a partnership, with COVAX," Sullivan said.

Remaining doses will go to countries with surging cases, such as India, as well as partners and neighbors like Mexico and Canada.

Back in New York, the vaccine buses will make another round of stops at schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan on Sunday and Monday.

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