By Amanda Moses
The lower level of the Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC) has been a shell of its former self since the dawn of the pandemic. What was once a community hub bustling with members of JASA Starrett Senior Center, members of Spring Creek Teen Central, and other neighborhood groups, has been closed off—with the exception of the upper level where the fitness center has a state mandated cap on capacity.
On March 7th and 8th, Spring Creek Towers (SCT) hosted a pop-up vaccination site in the lower level of the BSC and this area was once again brimming with life for the first time in a year, as individuals lined up outside the pop-up vaccination center. Volunteers from Maimonides Medical Center and Emergency Services personnel were on hand to administer some 390 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday to resident in zip codes 11239 and 11207. With a goal of distributing over 1,000 first vaccination shots, the eligibility expanded to meet the health department’s conditions on Sunday.
Ninety-five-year-old Rosalyn Klein has been waiting to get the vaccine for quite some time, but as someone who uses a walker, finding a local site within walking distance has proven to be difficult—until now. Her daughter, Wendy Klein was at a loss trying to figure how to access a vaccination for her mother. She was able to travel to another location to receive her shot, but for her mother who is nearly a century old, the risk was just too great to leave the SCT community.
“I feel like I’m the oldest one here. I can’t help myself because I have to use the walker,” Rosalyn Klein said.
With a great sigh of relief, Wendy Klein watched as her mother held her card that marked the appointment for the second round of the Pfizer vaccine. “If I had to take her somewhere else, it would just be so much harder,” Wendy Klein said, emphasizing the risk of taking public transportation as someone who is vulnerable to COVID-19.
On Sunday, dozens of attendees formed a line within the BSC, some with an appointment while others simply walked in after hearing word about the vaccination center. A volunteer sat at a desk by the entrance way, kindly greeting and guiding individuals to receive their inoculation.
Protocol requires all vaccinated individuals must wait 15 minutes in a designated waiting area to make certain they do have any adverse effects.
David Segarra, an employee with the BSC and with the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, was excited to receive his vaccination. It was simply an added bonus that all he had to do was walk downstairs from his workplace at the BSC to receive it.
“It feels pretty good. I was able to head downstairs from my extra job and it’s not a bad gig,” Segarra said. For Segarra getting the vaccine was an easy decision. “It’s all about public safety,” he said, emphasizing that receiving the vaccine is a public service to everyone in New York City.
The pop-up vaccination center will return on March 27th and March 28th from 9am to 5pm to administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine for those who received it last weekend. Since their return to Spring Creek Towers will be held during Passover, anyone who celebrates this religious holiday will receive an appointment accommodation at Maimonides Medical Center for their second dose at a later date.
Since the inception of the COVID-19 vaccine, Maimonides Medical Center has distributed over 20,000 doses. Dr. Jenny Tsang-Quinn is one of many hospital workers who donated their weekend and days off to help make sure the vaccine reaches as many arms as possible. Dr. Tsang-Quinn has witnessed the rapid devastation and death caused by the coronavirus, and while some may be burnt out, she pushes through because she sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We want to get shots into arms as quickly as possible,” Dr. Tsang-Quinn said, who also expressed that pop-up sites are crucial in communities like Spring Creek Towers that rely heavily on public transportation for travel.
The pop-up vaccination site was a part of the New York Vaccine Equity Task Force initiative, where 12 community-based sites were placed throughout New York State last week. This initiative was developed as a part of ensuring the most vulnerable and underserved communities are not left behind in the fight against COVID-19.
Longtime Spring Creek Towers resident, Sharon Harrison first learned about the vaccination hub after receiving a notification from Twin Pines Management. For Harrison, this site made a big difference because of its accessibility.
Rebecca Caraballo, President of the Starrett City Tenant Association was impressed by the pop-up vaccination site, particularly it’s accessibility for members of the community. She was happy with how well the two-day event functioned and commended the volunteers for their efficiency, politeness, and informative work.
“This is great for the community it reminds me when we had the medical center located at 1390 Pennsylvania Avenue, it was always easily accessible for any medical necessity that might arise. Except emergencies of course. Residents with preexisting or age conditions did not have to travel long distances and wait in clinics or doctors’ offices for long periods of time, then trek back home wasting the entire day,” Caraballo said.
For those who have been vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that it is important to still maintain health protocols. According to the New York City Health Department’s website, “Vaccines are an important tool in preventing COVID-19. Even after you are vaccinated, you will still need to practice these important COVID-19 prevention steps: stay home if sick, wash your hands, wear a face covering and keep physical distance from others.”
If you want to find the nearest vaccine site, please check https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/
Photos by Amanda Moses