Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

Dear Neighbor,

As the Delta Variant spreads and stories of breakthrough Covid-19 infections multiply, many are left worried and wondering if they will need some sort of booster shot, particularly those among us who got the “one and done” Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that vaccinated Americans should return to wearing masks inside.

Our heads are spinning too.

Clear Health Costs, a journalism company dedicated to bringing more transparency to the healthcare marketplace, and one of Epicenter-NYC’s vaccine-effort partners, did some digging into the matter. Allow us to summarize:

There’s a whole lot of conflicting information out there, even within the healthcare community. 

Dr. Vin Gupta, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, tweeted on June 28: “Since I’ve seen this advice be given multiple times privately:

“If you received the 1-dose J&J, go and get 1-shot of Pfizer or Moderna as a ‘booster’ when you’re able. Most I know who got J&J are doing it and are telling others the same — since two seems better than 1 re: delta.”

Photo courtesy of Dr. Vin Gupta / @VinGuptaMD

Yet just a week earlier, on July 21, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, under questioning from Norah O’Donnell at CBS News, said people who got J&J don’t need to go get Pfizer or Moderna. It’s the second question Norah O’Donnell asked him in this clip.

So … what should you do?

Dr. Mark Horowitz, a family physician who practices in Manhattan who Epicenter turns to often, said to sit tight.

“At this time, there is sufficient evidence that all three of the currently available Covid vaccines in the U.S. provide substantial, durable protection against all currently identified variants, including the Delta variant.”

However, he said that as the virus continues to mutate, boosters, or vaccine reformulation may be necessary. And at this time, there is a general consensus, including within the Biden administration, that people with weakened immune systems will require a booster in the next three to six months.

He promised to keep us informed and we will do the same with you.

But what if you really want that additional shot?

You may or may not be able to get it. Some individuals who received the J&J shot were turned away when they tried for an additional dose of Pfizer or Moderna. Others have managed to receive it by registering under a false name; no one in New York State is required to supply documents proving that they are New York residents or even fully documented to be in the United States.

Let us be clear that we are not endorsing this route, and it brings up several ethical questions, as much of the world remains unable to access any vaccine at all. As always, we recommend that you consult with your doctor when making these decisions. Or email us and we can put you in touch with a doctor or health-care professional.

That being said, the mixing of vaccines is gaining popularity.

Israel recently began offering a Pfizer booster shot, and in Germany, it’s being recommended that those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose.

Read Clear Health Costs’ full story here.

Photo by Katherine Tam for Epicenter-NYC

How to run a mobile vaccine clinic

As more employers and schools including NYC, CUNY, NYU and U.S. Veterans Affairs medical centers announce vaccination mandates, the city continues to send out mobile vaccination clinics in a race against Covid-19’s Delta variant which is now rapidly spreading among the unvaccinated. Epicenter-NYC contributor Katherine Tam writes about her experience visiting a mobile vaccination bus in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Read it here.

Our Thursday Epicenter-NYC politics newsletter will be off this week, returning on August 5.

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Join our community here.


Every week, neighbor and author Radha Vatsal will be providing her recommendations for what to read and watch throughout the summer. 


If, like me, your views of Britain’s racial past have been shaped by shows like Downton Abbey or Masterpiece Theater adaptations of literary classics, it might be time to take a look at Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga or Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufman.  Both reveal that people of African origin have been part of British life for longer than is commonly realized.

Olusoga’s narrative, which is available both as a book and BBC TV series (and can be streamed in the U.S. on Amazon as Africa and Britain: A Forgotten History) stretches back to Roman times.  “It’s time to tell the history of Britain in Black as well as White,” Olusoga, who is Black, begins.  Standing by Hadrian’s Wall, a remnant of the Roman Empire’s conquest of Britain, he says that the illustrated books he read as child showed him that there couldn’t have been anyone who looked like him or his family in England during that period. But this isn’t true.  Historical records show that there was a Roman unit of Moors stationed in Britain, and these North Africans—maybe as many as 500, Olusoga says, and “the culture and beliefs they brought with them, would have shaped life around the fort [they guarded].” The community around the Roman fort is the “first community we know of in Britain that included people from Africa.”

While Black and British dips into different moments in Britain’s past, Black Tudors focuses on the Tudor era. (Yes, the time of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and for fans of Hilary Mantel, Thomas Cromwell.)  Through meticulous historical research, Kaufman tells the stories of 10 Africans like John Blanke, a trumpeter at the court of Henry VII; Reasonable Blackman, a silk weaver; and Cattelena of Almondsbury, all of whom lived and worked as free individuals in 16th Century England.  Both Black Tudors and Black and British challenge our thinking about race, and show that ideas about race can and do change over time—and not always as much as it should.

For a slice of forgotten history that takes a lighter approach, check out Skipped History, a comedy web series that “explores overlooked ideas, people and events that continue to shape the United States.”


Make sure you have a listen to our latest episode, which features a conversation with Zach Williams, the director of Los Sures Comida Food Pantry in South Williamsburg. Tune in tomorrow to learn more about what it’s like to be a food vendor these days, as we talk to halal cart-owner Hani Waly and the Street Vendor Project.


Get Back!

The free outdoor concert series at Brooklyn Bridge Park brings in world-class musicians every Thursday night at 7 p.m. through August. This week’s performer is The Blk Hrs, a sonic collective fronted by Cyrus Aaron. See the entire lineup here.

Immigrant Jam

Lucie Pohl’s Immigrant Jam comedy show celebrates being from somewhere else. This Thursday, June 29, watch immigrant plus first generation stand-up comedians, storytellers and character comics as they perform their funniest immigration-related material. The lineup includes Yassir Lester (Girls, Black-ish, The Mindy Project), among many others. The outdoor show will start at 7 p.m. at the Tiny Cupboard at 1717 Broadway in Brooklyn. Get tickets ($10) here.

A reason to go to Times Square?

Photo montage courtesy of Corcoran Holt /@corcoranholt

We promise you, there is! Now through September 30, Jazz at Lincoln Center will be bringing live music to Broadway Plaza (between 43rd and 44th Streets) every Thursday evening at 6 p.m. This week, check out the Corcoran Holt Trio, followed by the Luther S. Allison Trio on August 5 and the Willerm Delisfort Duo on August 12. See the entire schedule here.

Chicken tikka tacos & guac papri chaat

Photo courtesy of PriaVanda Chouhan / @chefpriavanda

PriaVanda Chouhan, the restaurateur behind Indian fast-casual favorite Desi Galli, launched her first full-service restaurant, Desi Garden, in the East Village. The concept features a seven-course tasting menu (with a vegetarian option) of Mexican-Indian fusion dishes, plus a spicy margarita, for $49/person. View the complete menu and make reservations here.

Movies on the waterfront 

The free series put on by the Central Astoria Local Development Corporation has a great lineup for August: “Disney’s Aladdin” on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 8:30 p.m., “When Harry Met Sally” on Monday, Aug. 9, at 8:30 p.m., “Coming to America” on Monday, Aug. 16. At 8:15 p.m. and “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Monday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. It’s recommended to bring chairs or a blanket, and don’t forget the snacks.

Underground culinary experts

The Market Line underground food hall has officially reopened after a long hiatus. Next time you’re near the Lower East Side, stop by and sample a wide variety of food like Indonesian desserts from Moon Man, mofongo from Que Chevere, horseradish dills from the Pickle Guys, to name a few. Market Line is located at 115 Delancey St. on the lower level, and open Sunday thru Wednesday 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Thursday thru Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. (individual vendor hours may vary) Learn more.

Calling all designers & illustrators

Photo courtesy of the 31st Avenue Open Street Collective / @31staveopenstreet

31st Avenue Open Street is seeking a new logo for social media and outreach material, and they are taking submissions from the community. The top entries will be voted on in August, and the winner will receive a dinner for two at Zenon Taverna. Designs can be sent to; the deadline is Tuesday, Aug. 10. Questions? Send a direct message to its Instagram page.

Free groceries in Brooklyn

East Brooklyn Mutual Aid will be distributing free groceries this Saturday, July 31, from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Chrisitan Cultural center at 12020 Flatlands ave. Pre-registration required.


This week we have you heading to New Canaan, Conn., just about an hour from New York City. There’s an abundance of activities, but one of the main reasons people visit is to enjoy a piece of architectural history: The Glass House. Built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, the Glass House consists of 14 structures on a 49-acre landscape, which also boasts a collection of 20th-century paintings and sculptures, as well as a variety of temporary exhibitions. You can purchase your self-guided tour tickets here ($30 per person).

Afterwards, we recommend heading to local gourmet grocer, Walter Stewart’s, picking up some snacks, and heading to Wavenly Park for an impromptu picnic. While you’re there, be sure to check out “The Castle,” a 109-year-old Elizabethan-style mansion commissioned by one of the founders of Texaco.


We want to see, hear, feel, support your art and response to this moment. To submit a poem, short story, artwork or any shareable experience, email us.  If your work is selected, you will receive a $100 stipend and become part of our growing network of artists.

Le roi Ferdinand faisant sa sieste (11 x 15). Photo courtesy of the artist Adèle Saint-Pierre.

This week we welcome artist Adèle Saint-Pierre, a Franco-American artist originally from Maine. She currently teaches French at Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I. Besides her passion for drawing and painting, she enjoys reading, cooking, and going for long walks with her trusty beagle, Sophie.

Thérèse commandant son souper (11 x 15). Photo courtesy of the artist Adèle Saint-Pierre.

For as long as I can remember, fantastical creatures and people have been calling to me from creases in fabric, water stains on ceilings, paint chips on walls, and wood grain patterns on floors. My work is inspired by the world of stories that speak to me through these things.

Les frères Lucarelli (11 x 15). Photo courtesy of the artist Adèle Saint-Pierre.

These stories are influenced by the years I lived in France and Quebec, by my extensive travels throughout Europe and parts of South and Central America, as well as my studies in literature and linguistics, my work as a teacher of languages, and my love of literature.

Mariette et Albertine, les cousines dites irlandaises (12 x 18). Photo courtesy of the artist Adèle Saint-Pierre.

Saint-Pierre’s work will be exhibited at the Shen Gallery, The Packer Collegiate Institute, located at 170 Joralemon St. in Brooklyn beginning this September and running through October.

See more of Saint-Pierre’s work on her website.

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