NY 1: Bronx Nonprofit Helps to Vaccinate Hesitant New Yorkers

Chalimar Jakes is now a step closer to being protected from COVID-19. She got her second dose of the vaccine on Wednesday.


“It gives you a more sense of relief that you won’t catch it,” said Jakes.


But she was hesitant at first.


“Just out of hesitation and concern for possible side effects that’s basically the only reason,” said Jakes.


Since January, the nonprofit Bronx Rising Initiative has helped vaccinate 2,000 Bronx residents with clinics like this one at a public housing complex in Claremont. The group has made a lot of progress vaccinating seniors and people of color like Teresa Smith who have been hesitant to get vaccinated.


“I feel blessed and I’m happy that I did it. And I can just move on with life,” said Smith.


BRI has seen a drop in vaccinations, mainly because more people are now vaccinated and the vaccine is easier to get without an appointment. But the group is now seeing a hesitancy among younger New Yorkers and millennials.


“What we’ve heard a lot 'we’re gonna wait. We’re gonna wait because we don’t know enough about the long lasting side effects of the vaccine,'” said Jason Autar, chief operating officer at the Bronx Rising Initiative.


Because of that, Jason Autar said the group will need to continue to stay visible in the community.


“That means if we have to double back on doors that’s what we have to do just to show that we’re serious about this," said Autar.


Each person this group vaccinates brings the city a step closer to reaching its goal of five million New Yorkers fully vaccinated by June. The city is still about 2.3 million people away from that goal.


“Helping the city is really important because it’s a multi-pronged approach so they’re helping people at the mega sites we have the mini sites.”


BRI will soon start offering gift cards to entice more people to get vaccinated. Word of mouth from the fully vaccinated could also help.


“Do what you feel is best. But at the end of the day it’s for your health and for the people around you health and if you have children especially,” said Jakes.


By ROCCO VERTUCCIO


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