NYC to close COVID-19 vaccine sites for toddlers as city pivots to monkeypox
The city has began shutting down the 10 COVID-19 vaccination sites for kids younger than 5 last week, with all expected to close by Sunday, Aug. 14.
Three of the locations switched to distributing monkeypox vaccines on Aug. 5, the city said. It was not clear whether the other seven sites would transition, as well.
The city-run sites that swapped COVID-19 vaccines for kids with monkeypox vaccinations are:
Long Island City Vaccine Hub at 5-17 46th Road
The Livonia at 506 Livonia Ave. in East New York
The Jefferson at 1300 Flushing Ave. in Bushwick
“We always planned to transition vaccination for very young children to providers,” the city’s health department said in a statement, citing declining appointments as more kids get vaccinated elsewhere. “Due to the ongoing monkeypox emergency, we transitioned some of these sites to administer monkeypox vaccine.”
The COVID-19 vaccination sites for kids opened in June after the federal government approved the vaccines for children younger than 5. Now, the city says, pediatric providers, pharmacies, and neighborhood health centers are picking up the slack.
The city said no appointments for kids’ COVID-19 vaccines were canceled and already scheduled appointments will be moved to nearby sites if necessary.
In a letter to city Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan on Aug. 3, Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer encouraged the city to keep the toddler vaccine sites open through the fall.
“I know that sites need to be available for Monkeypox vaccinations; other sites should be explored as to not reduce access to sites where staff have perfected pediatric care to reduce the impact of COVID-19,” Brewer wrote.
She pointed out that the city-run sites offer the Moderna vaccine, while Health + Hospitals and other providers, including some pharmacies and neighborhood health clinics, only offer Pfizer.
“The Pfizer vaccine is a good option as well for families, but this is not helpful to parents who have already started or prefer the Moderna vaccine,” Brewer wrote, noting some pharmacies and clinics don’t have staff properly trained to give small children vaccines.
On Friday, the city announced 9,000 additional monkeypox vaccines would be made available at 10 a.m. on Saturday.