As most New Yorkers were starting their day, at 10:30 a.m. on June 23, the city’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Dave Chokshi, posted on his Twitter page that “anyone can request a vaccination in their home.”
During a press conference with Mayor de Blasio, Chokshi further elaborated that the driving force behind the new initiative was to make sure New Yorkers going on trips out of the city were inoculated before they left the Big Apple.
“The key point is that vaccination is critically important to keeping New York City safe but also is critically important anytime anyone is embarking upon travel,” said Chokshi. “Particularly because we know that travel is a risk factor for spread of the virus. So, if there are ways that New York City can further support, ensuring that people who are traveling are vaccinated, that means that all of us will be safer.”
Chokshi said that with the city being a global metropolis, some New Yorkers spend months out of the year living in other countries, particularly in South and Central America.
“We have many people living in New York City who spend some months of the year you know, sometime living between the city and other places,” said Chokshi. “And for them, you know, the clear message is if you’re a New Yorker, you know, we want you to get vaccinated. And we will do everything in our power to extend, you know, access to vaccination for you as well. For someone who is truly living outside of the United States, I think that is a different case. And our priority is for people who are U.S. residents.”
Rick Cotton, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that manages and maintains some transportation networks in the aforementioned states, said at a June 24 board meeting that while air travel is trending upwards, passenger volume is 44 percent down from June 2019 pre-Covid-19 levels for the week of June 14 to June 20, 2021. Port Authority Trans-Hudson train service is also down by two-thirds for the same period.
“Those low levels of operation, although they are improving, continue to impact both our operating revenues and our capital capacity,” said Cotton. “Our estimate of $3 billion in lost revenue from the end of Q1 2020 to Q1 2022 remains valid.”
The mayor’s new initiative expands on his Test & Trace Corps program, which vaccinated 15,000 people, according to the mayor.
At-home vaccinations first included only the homebound and their caretakers in May, and later expanded to seniors, NYCHA residents and city employees, according to spokespersons from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Test & Trace Corps.
A free Pfizer vaccine is now available for those 12 and up, according to Health + Hospitals. People can register for the at-home vaccination service at nyc.gov/homevaccine or call 1 (877) 829-4692. The inoculation is available seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Our efforts to bring the Covid-19 vaccine to the hardest to reach communities take the next step forward today with the expansion of at-home vaccinations for all New Yorkers,” said Dr. Ted Long, executive director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps and the senior vice president for Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “With this service, we can now bring the Pfizer vaccine literally to your doorstep seven days a week.”
“Any initiative that makes the vaccine more widely available is a welcome option, especially in light of the unknown risk presented by new variants of the virus,” said Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village). “And some neighborhoods, like ours, don’t have access to much public transportation.”
Holden represents City Council District 31, which encompasses parts of or all of Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, and Woodside.
Vickie Paladino, a Republican and Independent candidate for District 19 (College Point, Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck), who is running to unseat Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), believes such a push should have came much sooner.
“Everyone who wants a vaccine should have access to one,” said Paladino. “Unfortunately, the city has once again neglected citizens most vulnerable to COVID — our homebound elderly and disabled — and is only now preparing a potentially life-saving program to vaccinate these people at home. It’s indicative of our overall backwards COVID response, where we made major sacrifices for minimal benefit while neglecting common-sense actions to help those most at-risk to COVID complications. At-home vaccinations for our homebound elderly and disabled should have been among the first steps in our vaccination plan, not the last.”
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons compiled research from a June 23 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting, where there were discussions on reports of 1 in 10,000 getting “rare” or “extremely rare” cases of pericarditis (heart inflammation of sac surrounding heart) or myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). ACIP is particularly concerned about the side effect among 12 to 15 year-olds, but does not want to cause vaccine hesitancy.
The AAPS asserted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to add warnings about heart inflammation to Covid-19 vaccine fact sheets given to providers and people getting shots.
The CDC did not deny or confirm whether it will update its vaccine fact sheets, but referred the Queens Chronicle to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the matter.
The FDA did not respond to confirm if it would be instructing the CDC to update its vaccine fact sheets about the rare heart inflammation side effect.