NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York state entered the next phase of coronavirus vaccine distribution on Monday, with millions of other residents now eligible for their vaccines.
It comes as the state increases the number of sites where people can roll up their sleeves. But from computer issues to not being able to get someone on the phone, it doesn’t work as well as many had hoped, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported.
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The state entered Phase 1B on Monday, which means the largest group – 3.2 million people – are eligible for the vaccine. The group includes people aged 75 and over, first responders, public safety workers, transit workers, and education workers.
In addition to being eligible for the vaccine, you must make an appointment to enter one of the 160 vaccination sites.
Hillcrest High School in Flushing, Queens is one of them. DeAngelis reported seeing walk-in people being turned away, but also said the line was stable throughout the day.
“It’s worth the wait,” said Mary Joy De Leon, medical worker, resident of Battery Park City.
De Leon stood in line for an hour for her vaccine appointment, which she picked up online.
âIt’s very simple, with a date ID number,â she told DeAngelis.
She felt “relieved” when she finally settled into the chair to receive her first dose of the vaccine.
âI am more confident now to work on a daily basis, exposing myself to other people,â said De Leon.
While some found the appointment making and shooting process easy, others did not.
Harris Ton, whose mother is a lung cancer patient, has been anxiously awaiting the moment her mother was cleared for her first dose of the COVID vaccine.
” I feel good. I’m very excited, âhe told John Dias of CBS2 at the new mass vaccination center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Watch John Dias report:
But hope was met with frustration and long lines at Brooklyn Army Terminal, one of the city’s premier 24/7 vaccination centers.
âI don’t know what we’re supposed to do,â one person said.
Many of those who registered online were trying to book their appointments in person as they were having issues with the city’s website.
They were turned away and told that the hubs do not accept appointments.
âThis website, it keeps loading, keeps loading, when you try to schedule an appointment. It’s not going anywhere, âone person said.
âI have to take my granddaughter or my daughter to make an appointment,â said Walter Costas, who doesn’t have a computer and needs an appointment for him and his wife.
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Senior lawyer Annette Fisher said it was confusing even after she was finally able to register three of her clients on the website. Fisher said they had no chance of getting the vaccine when they arrived.
âHe gave the three receipts. So I said, ‘OK, I guess we come over here and we just wait on the line. Maybe it’s their idea to make an appointment. He didn’t say, now go do something else to get a date, âFisher said.
Other sites across the city experienced similar problems on Monday, but Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the deployment.
“We want to do our best to handle this,” de Blasio said.
The mayor has pledged to set up 250 city-run vaccination sites by the end of January.
âWe have navigators that are going to help you determine if you need an appointment or if you have one, and they will help you figure it out,â said Dr. Ted Long of NYC Health. + Hospitals. “This is one of the things we learned from testing.”
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On Monday, the city announced a phone number where people can make an appointment by calling 877-VAX-4NYC.
âWe absolutely want to hug the elderly or anyone who is not comfortable online and prefers to make their reservation over the phone,â said de Blasio.
âThere is also a phone number to use. You can’t pass, âone person told Dias.
More 24/7 vaccination mega-sites in Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens are also planned.
The city aims to vaccinate 175,000 people this week, surpassing the 101,000 doses last week.
âFor how many people does the city actually have vaccines and when do you think the next delivery will arrive? DeAngelis asked city officials.
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âWe have about 230,000 doses on hand today in New York. We expect to receive around 100,000 additional doses this week, âNew York Health Commissioner Dr Dave Chokshi said.
âWe are accelerating. We’re going to run out of doses over the next few weeks if we don’t get more supply, âsaid de Blasio.
De Blasio said the city has enough doses to get through this week and next, but could run out of power unless the federal government steps in.
According to the COVID-19 vaccine tracker, more than 200,000 doses had been administered before Monday.
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John Dias of CBS2 contributed to this report.