If you struggled to find parking on West 231st Street near Broadway this past weekend, please know it was for a good cause. A really good cause, in fact.
The city deployed its mobile vaccination center to Kingsbridge over a large part of Saturday and Sunday, allowing anyone 12 and older to get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer whether they had an appointment or not.
All of this happened about the same time Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated nearly 74 percent of adults in New York getting at least one shot, and more than 67 percent fully vaccinated. Hospitalizations are at levels not seen since last summer, but positive infection rates are starting to climb.
For the longest time, in fact, new infections were well below 1 percent in the state. But now it’s well above 1 percent, and heading toward 2.
Wait, 1 percent? Even 2 percent? Why are we worried about that? It means 99 percent of the tests were negative.
True. But there’s a delta variant burning its way across the country, and it’s already here. While the jury is out on whether it makes people sicker, what public health officials do know is that it’s far easier to spread than the original virus that attacked us more than a year ago.
And although we might like to celebrate 67 percent of New York state’s adults being fully vaccinated, the same can’t be said here in the Bronx.
According to data collected by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, only 56 percent of adults in the Bronx have been fully vaccinated, as of last weekend. The numbers in the 10463 ZIP code aren’t far off from the state numbers — and 10471 is actually quite better at 73 percent — it seems the further you get from these neighborhoods, the worse it gets.
Just look at Allerton and Pelham Gardens. Or Tremont and West Farms. Or even Morrisania. Barely half of adults in each of those regions are fully vaccinated. Even a little closer to home, in the 10468 ZIP that includes parts of Kingsbridge and University Heights, adult vaccination rates are just 55 percent.
In fact, there are nearly 44,000 adults in our communities right now who have no protection at all against the delta variant or any versions of the virus that causes COVID-19. And it’s a real head-scratcher as to why people are hesitant about getting what has proven to be extraordinary protection against a deadly virus — protection that costs absolutely nothing to receive. Just a small pinch on your arm.
How can any of us forget Spring 2020 in New York City? Those days might seem like forever ago, but how many of us longed for something — anything — that would bring life back to normal? If Mayor de Blasio had showed up at my doorstep with a syringe in his hand, I’d be rolling up my sleeve. But somewhere between that first terrible wave and the beginning of this year, far too many have decided the vaccine is not for them. They’d rather wait it out, and benefit from herd immunity — that is if we actually achieve it, considering it seems reaching levels of the 75 or 80 percent needed is slipping further away.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb was on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday with a very dire warning: “Most people will either get vaccinated, or have been previously infected, or they will get this delta variant.”
Gottlieb — who, by the way, was the U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Donald Trump — says that if you’re not vaccinated or still protected from antibodies developed during your own battle with COVID-19, you’re getting this variant. Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in-between — your risk now is greater than it’s ever been.
Sure, vaccines are never perfect, and that’s true for the three coronavirus vaccines currently available. But the risks are negligible. The benefits are proven. And even if you did somehow contract the coronavirus, you can expect to recover with minor symptoms, if you get any at all.
Remember that non-infection rate above? Of those tested, nearly 2 percent are positive for the coronavirus while 98 percent are negative.
If that 98 percent figure is important to you, then here’s one other way of looking at it: About 98 percent of hospitalizations and deaths right now from the coronavirus have happened to those who are not vaccinated.
de Blasio’s office actually makes it quite easy to get your shot. Visit NYC.gov/vaccinefinder. Call (877) 829-4692 — even if you can’t get out of your home. Because if you can’t come to the vaccine, the city will find a way to bring the vaccine to you.
To your door, actually. It might not be Mayor de Blasio holding a syringe, but it will be someone well-trained to ensure you get the protection you need, so we can all finally enjoy life to the fullest once again.
The author is editor of The Riverdale Press.