BY JOSEPH B. FREDERICK, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – Yankee Stadium opened as a COVID-19 mass vaccination site on Friday by officials trying to increase vaccination rates in the pandemic-stricken surrounding areas of the Bronx.
The megasite is restricted to residents of the New York City borough with the highest percentage of positive coronavirus test results. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “a different kind of opening day” after a long queue formed outside the stadium on a damp morning.
“This is about protecting the people who need the greatest protection as the Bronx is one of the places that is bearing the brunt of this coronavirus crisis,” he said at a press conference at the stadium. “The Bronx has suffered.”
De Blasio, a Red Sox fan, put on a Yankees hat in gratitude to the team and declared himself a fan of Boston’s arch-rivals for “just one day”.
The website, which was set up with the help of the city and state, registered around 13,000 of the 15,000 available appointments in the first week. It is initially open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Goldie Albergottie said showing her ID and getting a shot was a simple process.
“Sometimes it’s not that easy to get an appointment. I was registered in town and no one called me, “she said, but her doctor” was on the ball and found out as soon as Yankee Stadium got the vaccine. “
Not everyone had a smooth experience. Lawrence Francis, due to arrive 15 minutes before his appointment, was prevented from getting vaccinated by a long wait.
“Look at that line and it’s raining and it’s cold and I’m older,” he said. “So you know it’s a problem.”
Plans to have COVID-19 vaccinations at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets in Queens, have been delayed by a shortage of vaccine doses.
No opening day has been announced for vaccinations at Citi Field.
Officials encouraging people to get vaccinated hired former Yankees star relief pitcher Mariano Rivera to help. At the press conference with de Blasio, the Baseball Hall of Famer said he wanted the support of the people who have supported him for so many years.
“We stored so many games here,” he said, “but now it’s about saving lives.”
Associate press writer Michael Hill in Albany contributed to this report.
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