Text and photos by Katherine Tam
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.
This past weekend, a city mobile vaccination bus offering the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines visited Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst neighborhood. According to the city, about 51% of Bensonhurst/Mapleton’s Zip code residents have received one vaccine dose and about 47% are fully vaccinated. That’s close to Brooklyn’s overall one-dose vaccination rate of 52% and fully vaccinated rate of 48%, but lags behind the citywide one-dose vaccination rate of 59% and fully vaccinated rate of 54%.
From lunchtime to 8 p.m., the city parked a colorful mobile vaccination bus in front of a popular laundromat, whose regulars often sit outside to talk. Having the bus there is part of an effort to bring more mobile vaccinations into the heart of local communities. We noticed the vaccination staff handing out flyers in Spanish and also in Chinese and Russian to appeal to Bensonhurst’s Chinese and Russian-speaking communities.
When the mobile vaccination bus first opened for business on Saturday, there were a fair number of people waiting to get vaccinated. By late afternoon, however, the bus was noticeably quieter. That being said, getting vaccinated was quick and convenient. These pop-up vaccination buses clearly have an impact. A customer at the laundry decided to take a quick walk outside to get vaccinated. After he waited out his post-vaccination period of about 15 minutes, he returned to the laundromat with his new Covid-19 vaccination record card and resumed doing his laundry.
People had the option of sitting outside in chairs to wait out their post-vaccination observation period or they could sit in another air-conditioned bus to escape the high temperatures and humidity.
Earlier last week, NYC’s vaccination scheduling website was taking Bensonhurst mobile vaccination site appointments for 4 to 8 p.m.. But neighbors were surprised when they saw the vaccination bus open at noon!
We did see vaccination staffers carrying around bags of flyers as the team began to distribute them throughout the neighborhood once they set up the bus. In particular, a staffer told us that the vaccination bus will return to the same Bensonhurst location at 70 Avenue O in three weeks’ time to administer the second Pfizer vaccine dose. Finally, the city has announced plans to have vaccination clinics at local schools over the summer.