“Last time I did this, I probably vaccinated 70 people,” Sonni Mun, a former physician who volunteers at the site, told Intelligencer. “I vaccinated three people today before I left.”
They weren’t alone. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the city’s immunization drive, throttled the number of available appointments to give out to people across its 125 sites this weekend, in an apparent attempt to balance out a supply shortage from last week that led to thousands of cancellations. Department representatives even forbade workers at vaccination sites from reaching out to community groups in order to give out more shots. But, workers say, the city bungled the overall planning, not telling them about the change in schedule, and ended up leaving potentially thousands of doses in freezers at a time when New Yorkers are scrambling to get appointments for shots.
“We’re still not good at allowing people on the ground to improvise, if that’s what it takes to get shots in arms,” Councilmember Mark Levine, who chairs the city council’s health committee, told Intelligencer. “This is a war in which we can’t lose a single day, and good for the staff who was ready to do that work. But I think we need to explicitly empower them to do that. Unfortunately, that didn’t appear to happen today.”