Manhattan Lawmaker Seeks Vaccine Site That May Not Be Needed

After a New York politician called for a mass-vaccination site in Manhattan, officials at Lincoln Center quickly stepped up to offer its tony arts complex as a venue. The only problem: the borough doesn’t appear to actually need another site to administer shots that city officials say are in short supply.

“It would be crazy to have mass sites in just four of the five boroughs,” said city Councilman Mark Levine, chairman of its health committee, in an interview.

Manhattan is the only borough without a mega site administered by the city, which primarily reserves shots for people in that community. However, the borough is home to a state-run vaccine site at the Javits Center convention site that is open to all New Yorkers and capable of administering thousands of shots a day.

Manhattan also has the most vaccine sites of any borough, according to a Bloomberg analysis of city data. It has eight sites per 100,000 adult residents, compared to four per 100,000 adults in Brooklyn. It’s also neck and neck with Staten Island as the borough with the most vaccinated residents: 15.4% of Manhattan residents and 15.8% of Staten Island residents have received at least one vaccine dose.

Manhattan Lawmaker Seeks Vaccine Site That May Not Be Needed

It’s difficult to determine a direct link between the number of sites and the percentage of people vaccinated. The city’s health department hasn’t released data on shots administered per site. While a mass vaccination center, in theory, can give shots to far more people per day than local pharmacies or doctor’s offices, many are processing far fewer than they are capable of because of an insufficient number of doses from the federal government. They can also be difficult for some seniors and people with disabilities to access.

But a trend has emerged across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx: The more total sites in a borough, the more people there that are vaccinated. The only outlier is Staten Island, which is far less dense and walkable than the other boroughs and where 83% of residents own cars, by far the highest car-ownership rate among the boroughs. Staten Island has the highest number of adults vaccinated in the city, but the second-lowest number of vaccine sites per 100,000 residents.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said a Manhattan mega-site is under consideration as supply ramps up. The Armory, at 168th Street run by nearby Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, now primarily serves the surrounding community of Washington Heights and upper Manhattan, said mayoral spokeswoman Avery Cohen.

“With more supply coming, we’ll be able to open more sites -- including in Manhattan,” she said.

De Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have both stressed the need to get vaccines to residents of the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Two more big state-run sites opened Wednesday, one in Queens and the other in Brooklyn, each capable of administering 3,000 shots a day. Those boroughs’ positive Covid-test rates were 4.85% and 4.72% on Tuesday, respectively, compared with Manhattan’s 2.8%, according to data from the state’s health department.

“We’re committed to getting those communities the support and outreach they need,” de Blasio said Wednesday on Twitter.

Levine, the Manhattan councilman, says the city’s goal should be to get as many people inoculated as quickly as possible against a quick-mutating virus. He said all five boroughs need a mix of mega-sites, smaller neighborhood-based venues and mobile vans taking shots to seniors and others in large apartment complexes.

“This is about preparing for the next phase, in which the supply is going to expand in coming weeks and we must dramatically increase the number of people who are vaccinated every day,” said Levine, a Democrat who represents northern Manhattan. “To reach those big numbers at a time when we have greater supply we’re going to need mega-sites that can push out thousands of shots a day.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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