The volume of the supply at public sites and pediatricians will be crucial, as under New York state law, pharmacies cannot vaccinate children under 3 years old. The state Department of Health said outside of the city, providers have ordered only around 39,000 doses of the vaccines. But state-run mass vaccination sites will not vaccinate kids under 5 years old, and the governor’s office is encouraging parents to seek out their pediatricians, family physicians, local county health departments and federally qualified health centers.
New York State reports more than 1.1 million kids under the age of 5, with about 500,000 of those kids living in the city.
“We’ve gotten calls from parents already, saying ‘do you have it, do you have it, do you have it?'” said Dr. Mark Horowitz, a family physician in Lower Manhattan.
He said he ordered a hundred doses each of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for his practice. For kids under 5, the Moderna vaccine requires two shots to be fully inoculated, while Pfizer calls for three doses.
“Probably shipping will start in the next day or so. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t started already because parents are so anxious to get their kids vaccinated,” Horowitz said.
Even when deliveries arrive, some pediatricians said they won’t be able to offer vaccinations to their patients.
dr Julissa Baez of East Village Pediatrics said her small practice cannot accommodate the storage needs of the vaccines, which have to be kept at specific temperatures. Nor did she think she could efficiently dispense the vaccines without wasting doses, since she has far fewer patients than the minimum order that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna required. Both companies require 100 doses to be requested in a single order.
Instead, Baez is referring her patients to pharmacies and another pediatric practice in Gramercy to get their COVID-19 vaccines.
“In the past, we’ve never had a problem doing immunizations, but this one is a particular one,” Baez said. “It’s a little hard when you’re solo.”
Sasha Kesler of Riverdale in the Bronx says she has no good options to get her two-year-old child vaccinated.
“My pediatrician is not offering it. And it seems none of the pediatricians in my neighborhood are currently. So, like, I actually just don’t know where to go,” Kesler said.
She said the city’s sole Bronx vaccination site in Morrisania is an hour away from her home and also closes at 5 pm, which makes it difficult for many working parents to access.
“It seems unbelievable that there’s not actually a goal of really making it accessible in the way that the city tried to do for other vaccine rollouts, where there were pop-ups everywhere,” Kesler said.
Also on Tuesday, Adams and Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan lowered the city’s COVID-19 alert levels from “high” to medium,” as the number of hospitalizations gradually subsides.
Here’s a list of the health department’s vaccine sites for tots — for whenever they go online:
Times Square, open Monday – Sunday 10 AM – 5 PMNYC Health Department – Uptown Clinic (in East Harlem) open Monday – Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM
Queens Mall, open Monday – Sunday 9 AM – 6 PMNYC Health Department – Corona Clinic, open Monday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PMNYC Vaccine Hub – Long Island City, open Thursday – Sunday 10 AM – 7 PM
NYC Health Department – Morrisania Clinic, open Wednesday – Saturday 9 AM – 5 PM
NYC Vaccine Hub – Empire Outlets, open Monday – Sunday 10 AM – 5 PM
NYC Vaccine Hub – The Jefferson, open Thursday – Sunday 10 AM – 7 PM NYC Vaccine Hub – The Livonia, open Thursday – Sunday 10 AM – 7 PM NYC Vaccine Hub – Brooklyn Children’s Museum, open Wednesday – Sunday 9 AM – 5:30 PM