” I’m afraid. That’s a lot of information. You think it’s a good decision or not, ”said Mendoza, a resident of Sunnyside.
But on Thursday, Mendoza put his fears aside by receiving the first dose.
“We have to keep everyone safe,” Mendoza said. “So we can take the mask off and be good.”
Mendoza’s reluctance is not an isolated incident. Half the population is not vaccinated, according to the city’s health department.
As the city moves closer to its goal of vaccinating 5 million people by July 1, efforts are stepping up in all five boroughs to get vaccines to community centers.
VIP StarNetwork, a company that typically manages health services for movie studios and major sporting events, runs pop-up clinics with state assistance.
“There are still large areas in the districts which have been strongly affected by only general access to healthcare,” said Johonniuss Chemweno, CEO of VIP StarNetwork. “So when we look at this problem, we look at our capabilities in terms of mobile access and mobile capabilities to scale up vaccinations at home, on pop-up sites – wherever we need them.”
But while there were enough doses to vaccinate at least 300 people at a pop-up Sunnyside Community Service Center site, as of early Thursday afternoon, fewer than 50 people were vaccinated.
Eight blocks away, staff from the Sunnyside Community Services Covid-Free Queens team were handing out free masks – and letting people know that vaccines were available nearby.
Jackie Lopez, who leads the team, says there are a number of reasons people hesitate, including immigration status and misinformation.
She said, especially in low-income communities, people are afraid of the side effects.
“They fear they will run out of work. They fear they will run out of a day or two of income, ”Lopez said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday that anyone who has to miss a day of work due to side effects from the vaccine will be covered under the state’s paid sick leave law.