This weekend, New York City is hoping to turn a new leaf in its fight against monkeypox by offering vaccination in all five boroughs.
Three mass vaccination sites will open on Sunday at Aviation High School in Queens, the Bushwick Education campus in North Brooklyn and the Bronx High School of Science, the city health department said.
These large-scale hubs will only operate for a single day, as the health officials try to capitalize on a new shipment of vaccine doses. Interested parties will need to book appointments in advance.
The city health department announced Thursday that it is also switching to using its own appointment scheduling website, after blaming third-party vendors for website crashes that stymied recent vaccine drives. A low supply has also thwarted efforts.
The new strategy comes as the monkeypox cases in the city continue to increase. As of Thursday, there were 389 presumed positives, up from 141 a week ago. Advocates and elected officials have been calling for more vaccines to address the outbreak and have criticized the city’s vaccine rollout so far.
“We are approaching monkeypox in New York City with the urgency it deserves, and we strive to center equity in all of the Department’s work, ensuring that we meet people where they are,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan in a press release.
The city received over 14,500 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine this week. A person is fully protected after taking two shots of the drug.
Of those, 8,200 first doses will be made available for online appointments this Friday at 6 p.m. via the city’s in-house website. Another 4,000 doses will be given to high-risk patients with referrals from community partner organizations.
The rest are being reserved for either close contacts of known cases or potentially for use as second doses. The health department said it will reach out to people to schedule their second dose.
A new monkeypox vaccine clinic will also open at the NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Vanderbilt on Staten Island, adding to the existing small-scale facilities in Chelsea, Harlem and Corona.
On Thursday, City Council Member and Chair of the Technology Committee Jennifer Gutiérrez and Health Chair Lynn Schulman called for an emergency oversight hearing to address the situation, raising concerns about the city’s technology infrastructure to address issues of public health.