Town hall informs about COVID vaccines for kids

By Jessica Meditz

As summer begins to fizzle out and school is in sight, many parents are on the fence about how to best protect their child against COVID-19.

The hesitancy is shown in the vaccination rates for Queens.

Although over 2.1 million Queens residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the New York State Department of Health revealed that as of July 25, just 2.5 percent of residents under age five have received at least one vaccine shot.

To inform the community and advocate for them to get their children vaccinated, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a virtual informational session, which was co-sponsored by City Council Committee on Health Chair and District 29 Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, and City Council Committee on General Welfare Chair and District 8 Councilwoman Diana Ayala.

The CDC recommended the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for kids ages six months and older in June, and various agencies continue to emphasize the safe and effective nature of vaccines.

“It is so important to reiterate what the DOH has been saying. The vaccine is safe, effective, and comes at no cost to New Yorkers,” Richards said.

“With new variants emerging, it is important to get our children vaccinated before school begins in September. We have come so far since the pandemic began, but we must continue to be diligent,” he continued. “I realize there may be some hesitancy if the vaccines are safe for our children. We must come together as a community and not be afraid of what we need to do to get our community back to full strength.”

Richards reassured Queens residents that his office has and will continue to be a resource for those who need assistance in finding an appointment, and that pop up events for kids under five will be held in the coming weeks.

Schulman echoed his sentiment, sharing that a friend of hers recently experienced treating their infant for COVID, which was a painful experience.

“Kids under 5 are just developing their immune systems, so it’s so important to get vaccinated,” Schulman said.

“We have the science now to show that vaccination is key to making sure that we don’t get sick, that we don’t go to the hospital and more importantly that people don’t die,” she continued. “Kids seem to get affected more so with COVID than adults do in terms of the symptoms and other factors.”

Mental Hygiene Assistant Commissioner of Health Equity Dr. Olusimbo Ige pointed out that we are 29 months into the pandemic, and that “although things are getting better, weare not out of the woods yet.”

Ige presented data that showed how children are affected by the virus, which demonstrated how little ones under the age of four, despite having a lower case rate, had more hospitalizations.

“Up until now, our littlest ones didn’t have the opportunity to get vaccinated, now they do. This is the reason why we want them to be protected, we don’t want to continue to see high hospitalizations among children under the age of five,” she said.

Ige added how children can experience more persistent symptoms of COVID-19, as well as ongoing health problems following their recovery, and that the known complications of the virus are far more dangerous than any risk of a rare, adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“There is a small risk of inflammation of the heart, myocarditis, and surrounding tissue, pericarditis, but this is mostly among adolescents and young adult males. It’s rare, but most people improve quickly with medicine and rest,” she said.

“The risk of myocarditis is reduced by spacing out the first and second dose for those who may be at risk,” she continued. “Serious side effects are rare, and the risks from COVID-19 are much greater.”

Ige also emphasized that the ingredients found in COVID-19 vaccines do not affect puberty or a person’s fertility, and that the COVID shot will not interfere with other vaccinations they may be due for.

One difference between the administration of the vaccine to children under five and other groups is that young ones who receive the Pfizer vaccine will require three doses.

Dr. Hector Florimon, a pediatrician and associate medical director at National Pediatric Center in Queens, also gave a brief presentation, explaining how booster shots are also recommended for everyone ages five and older.

“It’s a privilege to be a physician in this area and to be able to take care of our families and hear your concerns,” he said.

“We are here to answer your questions…I encourage all of my parents and families as they have questions and concerns to make it a dialogue,” Florimon continued. “No question is too silly for us to talk about it.”

For more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, visit, and to find a vaccine, visit or call 877-VAX4NYC (877) 829-4692.

Vaccine realities

Dear Editor,
Your editorial in the October 7th issue is myopic in claiming that the unvaccinated “now are the last obstacle standing in the way of finally ending this pandemic.”
The scientific evidence shows that a mucosal virus as SARS-CoV-2 is best targeted vaccinologically via intranasal immunization since it induces high levels of neutralizing antibodies.
The pandemic is still spreading since the oro-nasal route of transmission is not blocked by the current intramuscular (IM) route of inoculation of Pfizer, Moderna, and J & J vaccines.
However, intranasal immunization studies show robust systemic and mucosal immunity, thus curtailing and possibly eradicating pandemic spread. Recent Israeli studies show the waning effects of the Pfizer format after two months of the second shot, with efficacy down to 20 percent six months later.
With mucosal immunity, masks would be obsolete. An IM booster treadmill is perpetuating spread and facilitating the proliferation of new viral variants due to natural selection of immune pressure.
Several models, such as an Oral Polio-vectored SAR-CoV-2, would be promising to curtail the spread. The right idea in the wrong hands is the wrong idea.
Joseph N. Manago

What’s the delay?

Dear Editor,
With schools reopening across the country, why is there still no vaccine ready for children ages 5 to 11 years of age? What is the FDA waiting for? It should have been working on this for the last several months.
Our children need to be protected in the classrooms, and time is of the essence. It has been reported that the FDA may have an approved vaccine later this year, why not within the next couple of weeks?
Put the medical pedal to the metal and get this vaccine approved for these kids.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Get vaccinated

Dear Editor,
Even though millions of Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the virus still continues to mutate.
How can it be possible with all of the medical and scientific knowledge that the world is still in the throes of a pandemic for over 19 months? We can’t keep opening and closing, unmasking and masking.
The Delta variant is rapidly spreading across the country, particularly in those states with low vaccination rates.
We have three effective vaccines against COVID-19. For the sake of your fellow Americans, please get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do it for yourselves, your families, friends, and neighbors so that we can live our lives normally.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Free playoff tickets, vaccines at Barclays Center

A return to the playoffs is a testament to how far the Brooklyn Nets have come since its move to the borough in 2012. Now, it will also serve as a testament to how far New York City has come in its own battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Nets announced a new partnership with the mayor’s office and mobile medical service provider DocGo to bring a vaccination site to a location across the street from Barclays Center.
The site will offer free vaccines to qualified individuals ages 12 and older the day before and the day of any Nets home playoff games.The program will last as long as the Nets are in the postseason, and everyone vaccinated at the site will be automatically entered into a lottery for free tickets to a home playoff game.
“Providing Nets fans and our community with quick and convenient access to vaccines is crucial in continuing to open both our arena and local businesses safely,” said Mandy Gutmann, senior vice president of Communications and Community Relations at BSE Global, the company that operates Barclays Center. “We appreciate the mayor’s office and DocGo for making this important initiative possible.
“Additionally, after the incredibly challenging year that many have experienced, we are looking forward to teaming up with the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity to distribute Nets playoff tickets to fully vaccinated individuals,” she added. “It is our hope that this effort will not only build excitement around the NBA Playoffs, but promote the benefits of becoming vaccinated.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the program during a recent press conference, comically donned a Nets jersey under a blue dress shirt.
“This is going to be another extraordinary effort to get people vaccinated and keep everyone safe,” said de Blasio. “Go there, get vaccinated and enter the lottery.”
The new vaccine site is specifically designed for residents from the 33 neighborhoods that have been identified by the City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity as the hardest hit by the pandemic.
These include Bed-Stuy, Bushwick, East New York, Sunset Park, Coney Island, Flatbush, Midwood, Brownsville, and Canarsie. Residents from these neighborhoods who have already been vaccinated may still enter the lottery by visiting the vaccine site.
Walk-up appointments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Appointments can also be made in advance by visiting and selecting “Barclays Center: Modell’s” as the site.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing