By Mark Hallum
New Yorkers over the age of 65 who are unable to arrange their own transportation to vaccine sites will be able to do so through the city starting this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
When scheduling an appointment to receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, senior citizens will be prompted as to whether or not a ride will be needed for them to arrive on-time as part of the mayor’s Vaccine for All program designed to get New Yorkers inoculated in a timely manner.
“We are moving heaven and earth to get our senior neighbors vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “Now, seniors who need a ride to an appointment will get one, ensuring our vaccines go to those who need them most.”
Some options for seniors going in for the shot will be Access-a-Ride, ambulette services, cab service via Curb and transportation from participating senior center programs, expected to be available in the coming weeks, the administration said.
The goal will be to arrange up to 10,000 rides per week.
“I would like to thank our network of senior centers and providers, who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic providing critical services to thousands of older adults, and are ready to mobilize transportation services and assist them in getting to their vaccination appointments,” Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez said.
An outreach plan is currently in the works for those looking for transportation to a vaccination site which will come from an organization known as Vaccine Planning Workgroup for Older New Yorkers which will go into communities knocking on doors, making phone calls, and robocalls, holding virtual town halls and delivering flyers.
According to the city, vaccination clinics are already available to seniors living in NYCHA developments such as the Van Dyke I and II Houses in Brooklyn, Cassidy Lafayette Houses in Staten Island, and the Polo Grounds Towers in Manhattan.
This Sunday announcement from Mayor de Blasio comes as a shortage in the vaccine become apparent on a nationwide scale, with some providers having suspended new appointments to accommodate Americans scheduled to receive the second dose of either the Pfizer, BioNTech or Moderna version.
“As eligibility increases, you just increase demand, but we’re not able to increase supply,” Northwell Health spokesman Joe Kemp told Reuters.
Kemp added in the report that Northwell is only taking appointments as they receive batches of the vaccine, which has been inconsistent and is only prioritizing those coming in for the booster three to four weeks after the first shot.