Bronx, NY – Less than a week after New York City announced that people aged 75 years and up could get walk-in vaccinations without an appointment at Bronx High School of Science, they are closing the site entirely and have not announced a replacement location to serve local seniors in the Northwest Bronx. The new program for walk-in vaccines, which allows any New Yorker at least 75 years of age to get vaccinated without an appointment along with one companion, was exciting news for many seniors who had been unable to secure an appointment in the convoluted and irregularly available online/telephone appointment reservation process.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz registered his outrage with New York City’s decision in a letter sent Monday, April 12 – the same day that New York City announced that the Bronx High School of Science would be ceasing operations as a vaccine location as of April 15. A new vaccine location operated by SOMOS is slated to come to Lehman College, but details are scant and it is unclear if that location will offer the same weekend walk-up vaccination options.
The termination of Bronx High School of Science’s use as a mass vaccine site is not an unexpected development as NYC Department of Education is preparing to re-open all public-school buildings to in-person student instruction. The Office of Assemblyman Dinowitz contacted the Mayor’s Office on March 10, 2021 to ask about the future of Bronx High School of Science when a mass vaccine site was relocated away from the Walton HS Campus. There was no information provided at that time about when and how Bronx Science would be used when in-person instruction resumed.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D - Bronx) said: “I am outraged and disgusted that the City could take such a great idea and ruin it within such a short time frame. People who are over the age of 75 years old are the least able to navigate the appointment process and they are the least likely to be able to keep up-to-date with weekly changes to walk-up locations. The City needs to step up and fix this disaster so that seniors in the Northwest Bronx can make their plans to get vaccinated. We need leaders who will make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated, and that means having a dedicated and recurring walk-up vaccine location serving every community.
“The most disappointing element to this ordeal is that we all saw it coming. The only people who seem to have been caught off-guard are the people in charge of making these decisions. We need timely communication, empathetic policies that reflect the demographics we are trying to help, and basic common sense to be used when making decisions.”