New York City was awash in COVID-19 vaccination opportunities Saturday, a possible turning point in the inoculation campaign where supply may be outstripping demand.
The state’s eligibility site Saturday listed appointment availability at almost all mass vaccination sites — even the in-demand Javits Center in Manhattan.
“It’s unprecedented. We’ve never had appointments linger like this,” City Councilman Mark Levine, the chairman of the council’s Health Committee, said Saturday. “We really hit an inflection point this week where we’re really in a new world.”
Mayor de Blasio Saturday opened up 31 vaccination hubs to folks without appointments, providing they were 50 or older. The sites included the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Citifield, Lehman College and the NFL Experience in Times Square. The age restriction for walkins had previously been 75 and up.
One volunteer at the Times Square site noted on Facebook Saturday “We have TONS of availability at the Times Square vaccination site today!”
The New York-Presbyterian Hospital site at the Washington Heights armory also gave jabs Saturday to anyone 18 and older without an appointment.
Levine and others noted it was time to shift tactics in order to convince those who may be hesitant to get the jab to roll up their sleeve.
“We’re going to have to work harder to get vaccinations to people where they’re at — in their buildings, in their neighborhoods, in their churches,” he said. “I think we need to pivot to a new phase in which we are doing much more to promote vaccination among people who are on the fence and doing more to build trust.”
Saad Omer, the director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, tweeted Friday night the “US will soon reach a vaccine acceptance plateau and …. vaccine supply will outstrip demand. Time to scale up an evidence-based vaccine acceptance campaign.”
The seeming slowdown in demand comes as the state hasn’t yet hit the halfway mark in vaccinating residents. The number of New Yorkers who had received one vaccine dose stood at 41 percent as of Saturday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
A total of 13,122,020 doses had been administered up to that point including 249,255 in the previous 24 hours.
The state’s supply of vaccine has increased over the last month, with 1,068,455 first doses given to providers in the week ending April 12, up from 819,800 doses the prior week.
Nationwide, 206 million doses of COVID-19 have been given out as of Saturday morning with 39 percent of the population getting at least one dose, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trust in the vaccines may have taken a hit when the government announced Tuesday it was pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson shot after six women developed blood clots.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found just 61 percent of Americans had already received a jab or said they wanted one ASAP; 17 percent wanted to wait and see; 7 percent would get it only if required: and 13 percent said definitely not.
Some blamed President Biden, who was vaccinated in December, for wearing a double mask at events and possibly sending a message that the jab was not effective in warding off the virus.
“This is absolutely horrendous public health messaging,” tweeted Ellen Carmichael, head of The Lafayette Co., a political consulting firm.
Pennsylvania Tom Wolf Friday urged residents of his state, where appointments were going lagging, to get vaccinated
“The more people who get vaccinated, the safer all of us are going to be and the sooner we can get out of this,” he said.