Citi Field opens as mass COVID vaccination site

The New York Mets' home, Citi Field, joined Yankee Stadium on Wednesday in offering COVID-19 vaccinations to eligible New Yorkers, but a lack of supply means that only a few hundred people a day will initially get shots there.

The Citi Field vaccination hub will be reserved for taxi drivers, food service workers and vaccine-eligible residents of the borough of Queens.

"This site will be for the people of Queens, it will be for folks who take care of us and protect us and serve us as taxi drivers," Mayor Bill de Blasio said after touring the vaccination site. "It’ll be the place for folks who work in food service. Working people, essential workers who have given their all to us during this crisis, and we need to be there for them."

Yankee Stadium opened as a mass vaccination site last week, available only to Bronx residents who meet New York state's criteria for vaccine eligibility.

De Blasio said he hopes to see more vaccine doses shifted to Citi Field so that the site can inoculate thousands of people a day, up from the just 250 who he said would be able to get shots on Wednesday.

"By next week we’ll be able to do 4,000 doses a week at this site," said the mayor, who was flanked by team mascots Mr. Met and Mrs. Met. "But if we had enough vaccine supply, we will be doing 5,000 doses a day here at Citi Field."

Despite the relatively modest start to the effort, de Blasio called opening day for vaccinations at Citi Field "the beginning of something big." Quoting the well-known baseball movie "Field of Dreams," he added, "When vaccinations are here, people will come here. If you build it, they will come."

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Once the baseball season gets underway, vaccination efforts will be moved elsewhere.

"We will work with the teams and the facilities where these teams plan and venues to work out arrangements to make sure the vaccination efforts are still ongoing in these communities and there is no delay in the vaccination program," said NYS Budget Director Robert Mujica.

As for making appointments at Citi Field, which is in Flushing, or anywhere in the city, there remains no one singular place for New Yorkers to schedule their vaccinations.  

"We have to do our best to simplify the process," said de Blasio during a briefing on the pandemic. 

New Yorkers can visit or phone by calling 1-877-VAX-4NYC.

With the Associated Press