New York (AFP)
Faced with growing criticism of a slow deployment of the coronavirus vaccine, New York on Monday opened several large vaccination centers and relaxed the criteria for getting vaccinated despite remaining insufficient doses.
Dozens of people patiently lined up in a center in the Bronx, one of three pop-up sites in New York City that mirror hubs established elsewhere, notably in Florida and New Jersey.
“This is the turning point in our fight against Covid-19,” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
More than 75 years, police, firefighters, teachers and transportation workers became eligible for vaccinations after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo eased strict state guidelines over anger by the doses thrown away.
The vaccine, which is free, was restricted to frontline health workers, nursing home staff and residents, with authorities threatened with fines for breaking the rule.
But Cuomo announced an easing of restrictions on Friday after some hospitals reported they had to throw out expired vials because they couldn’t find people to vaccinate.
“It’s a little surreal,” said Amir Khosrowpour, a 39-year-old teacher at the Bronx Vaccination Clinic. “I didn’t expect to do this today, a little less than 24 hours ago, but it feels good. ”
About 100 sites across New York City, including hospitals, health centers and pharmacies, started scheduling appointments on Monday, though many sites are yet to be operational.
The other two major centers opened in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.
Although New York is less badly hit than in the spring, rates are skyrocketing as the pandemic continues to engulf the United States.
The United States is by far the country most affected by the coronavirus in absolute terms, with nearly 375,000 deaths in more than 22 million cases, according to an AFP tally.
The country hit a new record of cases on Friday, reaching nearly 290,000 in 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins University.
De Blasio said the new centers would help New York City almost double the number of injections from 100,000 last week to 175,000 this week.
But Cuomo said on Monday that the federal government was delivering insufficient doses, adding that the state had only received one million doses for four million eligible people.
“At this rate, it will take us 14 weeks just to receive enough doses for those who are currently eligible,” he said.
In Florida, where people over 65 are already entitled to vaccines, large vaccination centers opened last week quickly ran out of doses.
New Jersey also opened the first of its major vaccination sites on Monday.
© 2021 AFP