Just Like the Vaccine, York’s Vaccination Site Operations Are Proving to Be Highly Effective

Photo Credit | Flickr via Province of British Columbia

By Asar John

For qualifying Queens residents who are wishing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, York College has served for the past month to help do just that, serving as one of two CUNY mega vaccination sites. 

As of April 2, the site had inoculated 100,000 Queens residents and serves as one of the largest sites in New York state. FEMA and the National Guard are involved with administering vaccines to New Yorkers who visit the site. Vaccines are given in the college’s Health and Physical Education Complex on Liberty Ave. 

“For us at York, there’s no way in the world we could pass up that opportunity to have our gym transformed into an amazing vaccine site; it’s quite a privilege,” said York College President, Berenecea J. Eanes. “I’m really proud of the team for working with FEMA and the governor’s office. You would be amazed at the gratitude and emotion when you go visit the people that are in line.” 

“If you think about it, York College is the ‘landlord,’ we are hosting the site,” said COVID Liaison and Interim Chief Information Officer Claudio Lindow, explaining that York is in charge of providing resources such as a wifi network, telephones for FEMA and several other logistical items to be dealt with. “On a daily basis, there are different requirements and roadblocks involving the building and everyday logistics that FEMA may not be able to figure out or any of the other agencies involved.” 

Lindow called the site at York a nationwide “role model” due to its recognition given by FEMA as an example of how they can establish other vaccination sites in the country. 

“It’s pretty nice to hear from the FEMA lead that this is how it’s going to be in other places,” said Lindow. 

At the virtual Executive Leadership Breakfast event held on Mar. 22, Division Queens Supervisor of FEMA Region Two, Alejandro De La Campa, spoke about the organization’s involvement at the site and the symbol of leadership that it represents. He claimed that several government leaders who have visited York such as Gov. Cuomo and FEMA Administrator Bob J. Fenton have regarded the site as having some of the best practices nationwide, and should share some of their experience with other vaccination centers around the country. 

“This is the result of the effort and operation of every member of this team,” said De La Campa. “FEMA is using our site as an example to help improve vaccination operations across the country.”

Some of those who have already received their vaccine at the site can attest to this image that is presented by those who are working there day by day. 

York senior and Business Administration major Sharon Dhanraj visited the site with her boyfriend to receive her first dose of the Pfizer shot on Mar. 7. Dhanraj said that prior to York opening a vaccination center, it was quite difficult to schedule an appointment to receive a vaccine anywhere else in the city. However, once York opened its doors to appointments on Feb. 20, the process was quite seamless for Dhanraj. 

“When York made the announcement, they posted a number you can call; I called the number and someone answered right away,” said Dhanraj, noting that the receptionist asked a series of questions to make sure she was eligible to receive a vaccine. 

Another York student, Zarifa Ramotar, a senior majoring in Biology, made similar remarks about the process. 

“Scheduling an appointment was easy; I made my appointment two weeks prior to getting vaccinated by accessing the link from York college’s website and following the steps,” said Ramotar. “The day itself and vaccination process were very smooth and quick and there were National Guardsmen helping every step of the way to ensure a smooth transition.

According to Dhanraj, who traveled by car to reach the site, parking wasn’t an issue, there were about eight people on a line to enter the building and get a temperature check and she was promptly directed into the building by National Guard officers. 

“They had different people sitting at desks and you would give them your confirmation number for your appointment, then you get on another line to see a brief video about the vaccine and  how you might feel after receiving it,” said Dhanraj. “After that they just distribute you to different people to get the actual vaccine.”

For Dhanraj, the entire process from the line at the door to exiting the building was about 30 minutes, and she claims the site was clean, and the service was efficient. She highly recommends people who want to get vaccinated in Queens visit the York site because of its convenience and efficiency. 

“That area of Queens had been really affected by the virus and I felt that there were a lot of people trying to get vaccines and they just couldn’t,” said Dhanraj, who lives in Southeast Queens and knows neighbors who had to trek to Brooklyn and The Bronx to get vaccinated. “I’m happy that they chose a neutral location so that everyone in the Southeast Queens area can go. Personally, I’ve had several people in my family that have gone to York to get vaccines.”

To schedule a vaccination appointment and check eligibility at York College, visit ny.gov/vaccine or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. 

“Many of us have had so many losses, including family, loss of income, loss of day-to-day routine,” said Eanes in a Zoom interview. “I know that you all miss being on campus, and we miss seeing you.” 

“I think we never imagined what was going to happen, happened,” said Eanes. “Now, it is time to embrace whatever the reality was of COVID for you, and move through the grieving process as you need to, and get ready to go.” 

“For us at York, there’s no way in the world we could pass up that opportunity to have our gym transformed into an amazing vaccine site; it’s quite a privilege,” said York College President, Berenecea J. Eanes. “I’m really proud of the team for working with FEMA and the governor’s office. You would be amazed at the gratitude and emotion when you go visit the people that are in line.” 

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