Immunizations centers in Queens, Bronx set to close
by Andrew Pavia
Aug 21, 2013 | 635 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Senator Jose Peralta and members of District Council 37 rally in front of the Corona Health Care Center.
State Senator Jose Peralta and members of District Council 37 rally in front of the Corona Health Care Center.
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Community leaders rallied outside of the Corona Health Center in Queens last week demanding the facility remain open.

The walk-in clinic at 34-33 Junction Boulevard is one of several being closed citywide by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). It was set to close on August 21.

Currently there are three immunization clinics in the city, the one in Corona and others in the Bronx and Fort Greene. The DOHMH has begun steps to eliminate the Queens and Bronx locations, leaving the Brooklyn facility as the lone immunization clinic in the city.

Over 29,000 people were immunized last year at the two facilities that are set to close, including 10,000 children. In 2012, the Corona clinic alone served 4,286 children.

“This is a rapidly growing community where public services, from healthcare to school seats, are already stretched thin,” said State Senator Jose Peralta of his Corona district. “The city should be spending on services not cutting them. And it adds insult to injury to close the clinic before the start of the new school year.”

DOHMH has said that it will keep the Fort Greene immunization center open four hours a day, Monday through Friday.

“While we are reluctant to close clinics, the agency has decided to restructure and consolidate services to preserve essential functions and reduce overall cost of operations, knowing that less than 1 percent of all vaccinations in New York City occur at our clinics,” read a statement from DOHMH. “In addition to the Fort Greene Health Center remaining open five days a week, there are 22 primary providers in Queens that provide free or low-cost immunizations. No staff will be laid off as a result of this.”

Ponzella Johnson, who has worked for the Department of Health for over 30 years, said students will miss time in the classroom because they will be unable to get the necessary vaccinations to allow them to attend school.

Some also worry that the Fort Greene location will be overwhelmed.

“The Health Department’s proposal to close two of the three immunization clinics that serve families citywide would be a disaster, and implementing such a change right before the new term starts would guarantee many children would not be properly immunized,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Leitia James. “The remaning Fort Greene clinic, which would have limited hours, simply cannot handle this citywide demand.”

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