“#NYC to open COVID vaccine site in Queens Mall amid complaints”
The city is set to announce the opening of a new coronavirus vaccine site at the Queens Mall — amid complaints that parts of the borough don’t have enough inoculation locations.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and city health officials on Monday are expected to discuss the new Queens vaccination site at the borough’s largest shopping mall located in Elmhurst, sources said on Sunday.
The Queens Mall is already listed on the city’s vaccine tracker. The city-run clinic will offer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the entry says.
The new Queens site comes after Congresswoman Grace Meng and the borough’s other state and city legislators sent letters to both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio complaining that portions of their districts have inadequate access to doses — particularly mentioning Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale and Ridgewood.
“We write to implore you to establish a mass vaccination site in the western part of my congressional district, which includes the neighborhoods of Middle Village, Maspeth, Glendale, and parts of Ridgewood and Woodhaven,” Meng said in her letter to the governor and mayor.
“We have heard from many local stakeholders regarding vaccine access issues for communities west of Woodhaven Boulevard. Due to the limited number of vaccination sites in this area, we are urging your office to establish a mass vaccination site in this underrepresented region of Queens County.
Other Queens lawmakers joining Meng in the plea include Councilman Robert Holden, state Sen. Joe Addabbo, and Assembly members Cathy Nolan, Jenifer Rajkumar and Brian Barnes.
Holden complained that a March 10 letter he sent to the mayor to increase the number of vaccine sites in his district went unanswered.
“Many resident are seniors, immigrant families with multiple generations in a single household and public sectors, all of whom are at an increased risk of contracting COVID and want the vaccine,” Holden said.
“Considering our limited public transportation system in this area of Queens, local vaccine accessibility is crucial.”
Asked about the complaints from Queens lawmakers, City Hall spokeswoman Avery Cohen said, “With more sites opening every day, we’re doing all we can to vaccinate our Queens neighbors as quickly as possible. From pop-up sites to vaccinations for homebound New Yorkers, we will not stop until there is a shot in the arm of every person across our city.”
City officials also noted that Middle Village had a higher-than-citywide average vaccination rate and that there are up to 12 vaccination sites in the vicinity.
Meanwhile state Health Department spokesman Gary Holmes said, “We’re moving heaven and earth to get as many COVID-19 shots into arms as quickly and equitably as possible, using all means necessary.
He said more than 36.8 percent of the Queens population is at least partially vaccinated, which is consistent with the statewide average. As of Sunday, more than 839,346 Queens residents have received at least one vaccine dose and over 524,743 borough residents have completed their vaccine series.
“As vaccine supply continues to expand, we will redouble our efforts, while launching new programs like direct partnerships with houses of worship and the continuation of targeted #VaccinateNY PSA’s to break down barriers to access and empower all New Yorkers to confidently make the decision to get vaccinated,” Holmes said.
More than a third of New York State residents and 40 percent of Big Apple residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19, data show.
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