Photo: Niamh McDonnell
Neighbors

What older New Yorkers think as they get vaccinated

You’ve probably heard that getting a Covid vaccine in New York City is becoming harder. Alarms of low supply and unclear registration systems have left eligible New Yorkers without appointments, and others anxious about getting theirs. So far, about 800,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have been administered in our city.

Photo: Leonor Pacheco

Epicenter-NYC writer Jade Stepeney spoke with seven seniors, 65+, across New York City, who have gotten their first dose. Bonus: We couldn’t talk to our elderly neighbors without getting some life advice from folks who have seen a lot of life.

A retired nurse, Leonor Pacheco, 96, had no reservations about getting vaccinated. “I knew exactly what to expect,” she said.

She told us her primary care provider not only encouraged her to get an appointment, but helped her make one.  “Don’t be afraid,” her doctor said, comforting Pacheco after she struggled to secure a slot through government websites.

With the most challenging part over, Pacheco headed to Bushwick Educational Campus in Brooklyn. “My son-in-law drove and my daughter was my assistant!” she said through laughter.

From there, the experience was seamless. Enter the building, follow the arrows on the floor and wait your turn. Pacheco says the actual vaccine was painless, and medical staff and personnel exceeded her expectations. “They are very organized over there,” she said. After getting the vaccine, “you wait for a half-hour to see if you react, then you leave.”

We asked Pacheco if she had any advice for others thinking of getting vaccinated. “It’s the only thing we have,” she said.

Her life advice: “Don’t be afraid.”

Photo: Wendy Young

Wendy Young, 80, got the vaccine because it was “the right thing to do.”

“I heard on the radio that some people had reactions,” she said. “I was doubtful at first.”

Her children were there to put her worries aside. “A strong support system is very important,” she said. “They were all telling me, ‘Mommy, it’s safe.’ If they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have taken it as soon as I did.” Young’s children, who work in the medical field, have all been vaccinated.

Young also had trouble making an appointment. “I don’t have a computer,” she said. “My son made it for me because it’s so complicated.”

From her Forest Hills home, Young took the subway to Mount Sinai on 10th Avenue in Manhattan.

“I went to the appointment by myself because I didn’t want to bother my son,” she said. “He would have had to take a day off.”

Young told us the process was quick and easy. Her only worry now is getting the second shot in a few weeks. “I check with my son to see if my appointment is still there,” she said. “I always have to make sure.”

Life advice: “Have a positive mind and everything will fall into its right place. Eat healthy, exercise and don’t worry so much.”

Photo: Carmen & Miriam Herrera

Some New Yorkers are less anxious about the future than others. Carmen, 68, and Miriam Mogollon Herrera, 69, got their vaccine together at a school in the Bronx. Miriam spoke on behalf of both. So how was it?

“Fantastica!” she said.

“There was a translator as soon as we walked in,” she said. “The whole thing only took about 20 minutes.”

The sisters are scheduled to receive their second dose later this month. “We’re so happy there is a vaccine,” Miriam said. “Science is here to help. This is the best they can do to stop the pandemic.”

She thought back to her childhood, reflecting on the attentiveness their mother gave them. “We’ve only reached this age because of the vaccines our mother [took us to get] when we were younger,” she said. “[The Covid vaccine] is an opportunity.”

Life advice: “This is for everyone, but especially for Spanish speakers: Study. We live in a country full of opportunities.”

Photo: Niamh McDonnell

Army veteran Joseph Younghans, 89, from Long Island, recalled getting the Polio vaccine in the ’50s. “I grew up having vaccines for diseases,” he said. Covid-19 is no different. “My family felt I better get [the vaccine] to protect myself. I thought it was something I had to do.”

Younghans spoke to us through his “best granddaughter,” Niamh. She made the appointment and accompanied her grandfather to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens.

“It was just like a regular needle,” Younghans said. “I heard a lot of people had trouble, but I didn’t have a thing. Thank God.”

Life advice: “Be careful. Be honest. Make the best of tough times.”

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