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Mass and Pop-Up Vaccination Sites May Reach Underserved Rochesterians

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re finally starting to see our friends and neighbors receive their vaccinations. And in order to speed up the rollout process and reach those in underserved communities, new vaccination sites are popping up throughout the Flower City.

Earlier this month, a new mass vaccination clinic opened at the former site of the Kodak Hawkeye parking lot. Located on St. Paul Street and Avenue E, this new vaccination spot was among one of many that were planned by the state. According to Governor Cuomo, this newest site will have the capacity to administer around 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each day, thanks to a partnership between the state and federal governments.

So far, this site is designated only for residents of the City of Rochester, which could help to vaccinate those living in communities where vaccination access would otherwise be a challenge. For the first week, appointment registration was available only to those living in zip codes 14603, 14604, 14605, 14606, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14614, 14615, 14619, and 14621. At this time, residents living in those zip codes must also be eligible to receive their vaccine based on age, qualifying medical condition, or job. Despite the fact that 20% of adults felt the U.S. healthcare system was ill-prepared for dealing with our nation’s aging population, seniors over the age of 60 are now eligible to make their vaccine appointments. And while four in five over adults will battle at least one chronic health condition, New York State residents over the age of 16 who have one of the underlying conditions or comorbidities listed on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website are also eligible to make their appointments. So too are those in higher-risk professions, including school teachers and childcare providers, public transit employees, emergency personnel, grocery store workers, food delivery drivers, and others.

Although there has been a 500% increase in the inmate population over the last 40 years in the U.S., New York state inmates were finally permitted in early February to receive their vaccinations — but only if they were “medically frail” or over the age of 65. Outside prison walls, the state is making some progress to make sure that more vulnerable communities are inoculated. In addition to the new mass vaccination site in the city, staff members at a pop-up vaccination site administered vaccine doses to residents on Campbell Street — one of 12 pop-up vaccination centers in New York to be created from state and community partnerships. This particular site was set to run until all vaccine slots were filled, after which it will be re-established to administer second doses in three weeks’ time. Hundreds received their vaccines from the pop-up site, though it looks to no longer be listed on the state’s “Am I Eligible?” list of vaccination locations through April 16.

While the pop-up sites are meant to fulfill a growing need in the short term, it’s clear from the lack of availability at mass vaccination centers in Rochester and the surrounding areas that there’s no shortage of residents who are ready to line up and get their shot. One important thing to note is that the mass vaccination site can help seniors and others who have been unable to make appointments online or through other means. Registering for your vaccine online can hold your spot, but those who are eligible can come to the vaccine site to receive help in registering (though your appointment will likely take place another day). Seniors and other eligible Rochesterians can also call 3-1-1 or seek assistance at one of the city’s libraries or recreation centers. RTS has also announced that they will waive all bus fares for trips on Route 35 St. Paul until May 3 to help residents get to the vaccination site.

Although it’s clear that we’re still falling short on the number of vaccines available to eligible residents in Rochester and the surrounding areas, progress is being made. With any luck, capacity will continue to increase so that our community members can gain the protection they deserve.