COVID Vaccinations in NY: My Citifield experience

COVID vaccinations in NY are finally rolling out. This is what it’s like to get the COVID vaccine in New York City at Citifield Queens.

Covid vaccinations in NY are now available for essential workers, people over 65, and those with pre-existing diseases that may be impacted by the deadly virus. It’s just the start of a long road back for New Yorkers who have experienced the worst of the pandemic, only passed by New Jersey in terms of fatalities.

It’s been over a year now since New York had its first case of Corona Virus, and only now is the COVID-19 vaccine becoming available to residents. In just 12 months, there have been over 29,000 deaths across the city. In March 2020, there were refrigerated morgues outside hospitals, their parking lots transformed into freezing cold outdoor consultation rooms. It was a dark time of empty shelves and riots, followed by a lengthy lockdown.

Two mobile morgues and an obscured carpark paint a dark picture

Now with the change of year, government, and season, there’s a new hope. Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has finally delivered, and the new President has put in place accelerated delivery goals that are paying dividends. You could say there’s an air of cautious optimism for the first time in forever. Hey, it’s even got New Yorkers heading back to the ballparks – even if it is just to get their first jab.

You enter through the main gate of Queens’ Citifield, which greets twenty to forty thousand New Yorkers as they pour out of crowded 7 trains to catch the midsummer game day. To get this far is an achievement in itself because the COVID-19 vaccine is the most coveted thing any New Yorker wants these days. More than suite tickets to the Rangers, more than backstage access at Barclays. Since its launch, it has been released in phases. Front line medical staff first, then essential workers and the elderly, and now people with certain pre-existing conditions.

Covid vaccinations in NY are being handled at places like Citifield in Queens and the Javits Center in Manhattan.

Even then, it’s nigh on impossible to secure a spot for your jab. Both the city of New York and New York State servers have repeatedly been crashing or just coming up with no slot, so when a slew of times magically appeared – it was a case of drop everything and go. In this case, it’s to Citifield, but there are locations across the five boroughs, like the Javits Center, run by the state government or outposts at community centers run by the city. Additionally, hospitals, doctors’ networks, and chain pharmacies like RiteAid, CVS, and Duane Reade offer the vaccine, but for the most part, it’s for people over the age of 65.

To search for Covid vaccinations in NY sites and available dates is by no means an easy task. It takes patience and commitment – just like nabbing those festival tickets, you’ve opened three devices to try and secure. You can try here or here. An enterprising indie developer has outdone the government’s major digital partners’ work, creating Turbovax, a site that tracks vacancies for those much sought-after bookings.  

But before you leave, you’ll need these things:

  1. Your insurance card
  2. Your ID
  3. A print or QR code on your phone

Once you’re in the foyer, you’ll queue along a rope path, socially distanced from the next person. Generally, there are about 100 people in the line at any one time. At the base of the escalators are attendants with clipboards and paperwork. Before heading upstairs, you’ll have to fill in a two-page form that asks about your personal details, eligibility, medical info, health insurer, and whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, are on blood thinners, have had COVID, or been asked to confine at home in the last few weeks. It’s legally binding, so don’t try to bend the truth. The wait time is about 20 minutes.

You’re then led upstairs, where you have to sit in a waiting room for another 10 to 15 minutes. Most people are still filling in the paperwork. At this point, you’ll be asked to show your photo ID and insurance card. One by one, people are led to yet another line where you have to wait to be processed.

Bars and thoroughfares of the stadium’s corporate suites have been taken over by hospital dividers and rows of simple desks manned by essential workers. Alongside the posters of past Mets players, the walls and passages are covered with government Covid safe signage extolling hand washing, masks, and social distancing. You will be called over to one of the desks, separated from your interviewer by a Perspex screen.

At this point, you’ll need to provide all your paperwork, ID, details about where you work, their address, etc. The interview takes another 15 minutes, but at least you’re seated, and they offer free bottled water. You will also be able to book your second jab, which has to be taken at least 24 days later. These are the appointments you’d be hard-pressed to find online, and there are plenty available. Unfortunately, the only vaccine available on the day is Pfizer. Some centers offer it and the Moderna vaccine, but Citifield on this day has just been resupplied after an outage.

Finally, you’ll be led over to a nurse. Once you’ve removed your coat and are comfortably seated, you’ll be asked more questions and have to declare any allergies, previous side effects from medication, and that you haven’t had COVID in the last few weeks or a vaccine dose already. The nurse disappears for a moment, returning with a plastic pan housing the syringe.

The moment of impact

I’m a total wimp when it comes to needles. I hate them. I’ll almost faint over a blood test. This is why I’m amazed that I don’t feel a thing. Nothing. Maybe it’s the quarantine fat rolls, but this is entirely painless, and I feel totally fine. I was fearing the world of COVID vaccinations in NY, but the whole process has been seamless, albeit with a period of time that is entirely worth the wait.

The aftermath

Regardless of whether you feel like you could run a marathon straight after your COVID vaccine dose, you’re led to an observation area to sit for 15 minutes. It gives the nursing staff a chance to make sure you don’t faint or show any adverse reaction signs. I don’t show any signs of delirium unless you count a Yankees fan taking photos of Citifield’s playing surface under the snow.

For others, though, side effects may include:

  1. Fever
  2. Chills
  3. Tiredness
  4. Headaches
  5. Swelling of the area

The side effects

To be honest, the only real side effect for getting my covid vaccinations in NY was a dead arm. That’s completely normal with this kind of vaccine, and it’s the same as you get from tetanus, cholera, and typhus shots. I know I’m lucky. Lucky to have no real effects, lucky to get an early dose, and lucky to be at least a little protected from COVID-19. It may not be for everyone, but if you get the chance, it’s almost a golden ticket into life beyond rolling lockdowns. It even gives me hope for enjoying a real summer this year.


WHAT?

COVID vaccinations in NY are now open to the initial groups of essential workers, people over 65, and people with certain pre-existing medical conditions that would be impacted by COVID.

WHERE?

There are COVID vaccinations in NY sites across all five boroughs. Some are state government initiatives, while others are run by DiBlasio.

HOW?

Most major sites operate 24 hours a day. If you’re over 65, you can get vaccinations from RiteAid, Duane Reade, CVS, and local hospitals. For others, you’ll have to try your luck on the government sites or TurboVax.

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SteveH
2 months ago

Nice blog. It reminds us all of the struggles we’ve individually gone through the last 13+ months. Great feeling to get that jab!

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