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Immunization clinics up for closure

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As NYC families begin scheduling back to school physicals, the city has decided to close down walk in Immunization Clinics in Queens and the Bronx.

Community leaders and elected officials recently rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) stop plans to close walk-in Immunization Clinics in the Tremont and Corona.

The Aug. 7 rally was organized by District Council 37, New York City’s largest public employee union, with 121,000 members.

District Council 37 executive director Lillian Roberts called plans to close Tremont and Corona Health Centers “a threat to public health and safety,” while noting that the closures were slated to take place at the height of the “back-to-school vaccination rush.”

Tremont Health Center is located at 1826 Arthur Avenue, while Corona Health Center is located at 3433 Junction Boulevard in Flushing.

As a result of the closures, the Fort Greene Immunization Clinic in Brooklyn will be the only DOHMH clinic offering free and low-cost immunizations in New York City.

The Fort Greene Immunization Clinic will only be open four hours a day, Monday to Friday.

During the rally, Roberts also pointed out that, ironically, August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

Last year the Tremont and Corona clinics immunized 29,108 people, of whom 9,650 were children. The Fort Greene clinic immunized 27,090 people in 2012, 5,599 of whom were children.

The DOHMH walk-in Immunization Clinics provide immunizations recommended for children over four-years-old, teens and adults, including Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella, and more.

Several elected officials expressed their outrage over the DOHMH planned closures, particularly those who represent the areas in which the Immunization Clinics are located.

“This is an inconvenience at a time where children’s entrance to school this fall will be jeopardized.” Council member Joel Rivera said. Busy parents are now expected to travel to Fort Greene, Brooklyn from the Bronx to get their children vaccinated within the limited clinic hours along with the rest of New York City once the Tremont Health Center closes.”

“As the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee, I find it very distressing that the Department of Health will be closing their only immunization center in Queens, especially at a time when mothers are getting their children ready to go back to school,” Council member Julissa Ferreras said. “The loss of these immunization clinics will not only create a burden for hundreds of New Yorkers who currently rely on their services, but it could also lead to significant public health risks.”

City Health Department officials said there are other locations around the city for people to get free and low-cost immunization, as the two locations slated for closure account for less than 1% of all vaccinations in New York City.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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