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COVID vaccination

This guide offers an overview of how vaccines work, how to sign up for a vaccine appointment, and where to go for reliable information about the vaccine. It also addresses issues of skepticism of medical institutions and inequality in access to the vaccin

CUNY and vaccination

As of spring 2023, you are no longer required to show proof of COVID vaccination to register for classes. CUNY still strongly recommends that everyone be vaccinated and boosted to create the safest environment for students, staff, and faculty across the university.



Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines

There is a lot of misinformation and rumor-spreading about the vaccines that are misleading. See the CDC's myth-busting page about vaccines here.

What New Yorkers Need to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines

The latest info on the vaccines from NYC.

HOW CAN I MAKE AN APPOINTMENT for myself or help a loved one do so?

Anyone age 5 and older is now eligible to receive a Covid vaccination. [last update: November 16]

From the official NYC Covid vaccination site:

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is now available for children ages 5 to 11. The vaccine dose for this age group is smaller than the dose given to people 12 and older. Children can get vaccinated at their doctor’s office, pharmacies and vaccine sites across the city.

People between 5-17 years old are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and must have a parent's or guardian's consent.


(also directly from the official NYC Covid vaccination site):

Vaccine booster shots are now available for New Yorkers ages 18 and older. These shots boost your immunity from an initial vaccination series.

No one will be denied a booster shot in New York, as long as they are 18 or older and received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

The CDC recommends a booster shot for people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and are 65 and older, have an underlying medical condition or are at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. It also recommends a booster shot for anyone 18 or older who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Find a convenient place to get vaccinated

NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Finder logoScreenshot of vaccine locations on map of the Bronx and upper Manhattan









In the official NYC Vaccine Finder you can put in your own zip code and see places to get vaccinated, with links to make an appointment.


  • Check that you have proof of age.
  • After you schedule an appointment, complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form 
  • Reschedule if you are not feeling well on the day of your appointment.
  • Do not get the vaccine 14 days before or after any other vaccination.
  • Wear a face covering to your appointment. You will not be admitted to the site without one.


Somos Vaccinations logoSOMOS Vaccinations is a network of healthcare providers whose website provides one way to make vaccination appointments. 

You can sign up through their website or by calling 1-833-SomosNY.

Get vaccinated at home!

Nov 2021 update: Any New Yorker who requests it can now get vaccinated at home. Click here to request an appointment


This video describes the approval process for vaccinations, how vaccinations work, and what it means to experience side effects after getting the shots.

As Dr. Paul Offit, a specialist in infectious diseases and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, says in the video below: "You should be skeptical of anything you put in your body, including vaccines. But once you've seen the data, and you see that there wasn't a serious side effect before approval, and hasn't been a serious side effect post-approval, then I think you should be convinced."

Sam Sanders talks to Maddie Sofia, a science journalist with a PhD in microbiology, with questions about the vaccine. Plus some other brief conversations. Here are some key points of the podcast with their minute:second marks, if you want to scroll the timeline to them:

0:43 Sam talks to his Aunt Betty about her own experience getting vaccinated.
5:07 Sam asks Maddie Sofia what the deal is with double-masking
8:06 Can vaccinated people still carry and transmit the virus?
9:40 Can two vaccinated people hang out safely?
12:00 How are the vaccines against the new variants?
13:14 What about side effects?
15:18 If my grandparent is vaccinated, but I'm not, is it safe to see them?
17:39 What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated for us to have "herd immunity"?
20:49 What will future springs and summers look like, or do scientists even know yet?
26:18 Sam talks to Bridie Wilton, a health journalist in New Zealand, about what life is like in that country, where they have managed to keep COVID numbers very low. 

What about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Update on May 11, 2021:

The CDC has lifted its "pause" on the Johnson& Johnson vaccine, noting that there is a rare side effect of developing blood clots. The group with the highest risk of this problem is women between age 30-39, with less than 12 people out of 1,000,000 developing the problem. For women between 18-49, the rate is 7 people out of 1,000,000. More information from the New York Times and from the CDC.


Update on March 8, 2021:

The newly authorized one-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson uses a different technique than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

See this article in Scientific American that explains some of the differences, as well as what "efficacy" and "effectiveness" mean.

Update on April 14, 2021:

Update March 19, 2021 What about the AstraZeneca vaccine?

The AstraZeneca vaccine works in a slightly different way. Here is an explainer with more detail about how this vaccine works. 

It is not one of the vaccines that is now being offered in the United States.

When a few people developed serious and even deadly blood clots soon after taking the vaccine, several European countries stopped using this vaccine for a while. On March 18, the European Medicines Agency, Europe's largest drug regulator, said that a review of millions of cases could not prove an increased risk of blood clotting, but announced that they would add a warning to look out for the possibility of this rare complication. The World Health Organization stated on March 17 that it continued to see the benefits outweighing the risks.

Some of the countries who stopped are now resuming its use, while others refuse to resume use of this vaccine, or are limiting who can get it, until there is more information. 


The news about vaccine distribution is changing quickly this spring.

For the very very latest news, here are some good places to look:

  • New York Times search for COVID + vaccine with the date filter* set to the past week
  • Washington Post search for COVID + vaccine with the date filter set to the past week
  • Wall Street Journal search for COVID + vaccine with the date filter set to the past week
  • The Atlantic's ongoing and frequently updated series of in-depth articles about COVID

* date filter - in Google, click on "Tools" to make the "any time" dropdown menu appear, then you can choose whatever date range you like:screenshot of tools option on far right underneath google search bar, and "any time" dropdown menu

** for the NYT and the Wall Street Journal, you can sign up for a free digital subscription with your Hostos email address. The Atlantic seems to be making all of their coverage freely available.The Washington Post will cut you off after a few articles, but it's still worth reading.

WHAT ABOUT THE LONG HISTORY OF RACISM in medicine? Why should we TRUST this vaccine?

People of color, and especially Black communities, have faced much racist maltreatment within the medical and medical research communities. They have good reason to be skeptical. What do scientists and health workers of color have to say about the vaccine?

As Dr. Hansel Tookes, who teaches at the medical school of the University of Miami, says, "It's absolutely reasonable to have hesitation about the vaccine because there have been injustices done to our communities since this country was founded" but also "this vaccine is how we end the racial disparities in COVID. If we vaccinate at the high rates that we should, we will start to diminish our rates of infection and our rates of death. "

Dr. Tookes was also interviewed on a local TV news show. He speaks about how racial inequalities have been seen in how badly COVID has hit Black and Latinx communities, and also about unequal barriers to signing up for the vaccine.

He understands the justifiable mistrust many people have of the medical system because of both past and present racial injustices, but tells his patients that letting that mistreatment make them avoid the vaccine now would only mean further harm to the community. 

Poster for Bronx Community College discussion: What is vaccine hesitancy or vaccine reluctance? How is it distinct from an anti-vaccination stance?

The Bronx Community College held a discussion on vaccine hesitancy in Black and Latinx communities. The distinguished panel included:

  • Ivelyse Andino, CEO and founder of Radical Health
  • Dr. Justin T. Brown (PhD and MPH (Masters of Public Health)), Assoc. Professor of Health Sciences at LaGuardia Community College
  • Prof. Monique A. Guishard, (PhD) Assoc. Professor of Psychology at Bronx Community College
  • Renny L. John (MPH), community engagement specialist and contact tracer 
  • Dr. Lucretia E. Jones (PhD, MPH), Director of General Surveillance Unit, Communicable Diseases, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Rev. Lula Mae Phillips (RN, MED, MDiv, DMin), Community Engagement and Research Manager for Weill Cornell Clinical and Translational Science Center
  • Dr. Julian L. Watkins (MD) Clinical Assistant to the [COVID] Incident Commander, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene

(each panelist had many more roles and credits beyond those listed above, which can be found in the slides).

The slides from the discussion are available to view here and include many valuable resources. Especially check out the links on pages 34-35 and the resources cited on pages 37-38). 


City Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Dr. Julian Watkins, Dr. Nichola Davis, and moderator Veronica Guity discussed the COVID-19 vaccine and the history of racial bias and experimentation in communities of color.

This short video above describes the discussion. For the full discussion, please see Council Member Gibson's Facebook page here

For more on the reality of distrust of medical institutions because of awareness of racism--not just historical events, but also present-day injustices--you may want to see this letter from two scholars, "Tuskegee — Vaccine Distrust and Everyday Racism" written by Fatima Cody Stanford and Simar Singh Bajaj and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, 2021-02-04, Vol.384 (5), p.e12.

¿Es la vacuna segura?

In this (Spanish-language) video from the Organización Juventud Ecuatoriana and the Ecuadorian Consulate in NYC, Dr. Claris Gautreaux answers questions about the vaccine, including: does immigration status or lack of insurance matter in eligibility? (no) Can vaccination hurt pregnant women or their babies? (no), and other questions about how the vaccine works, with a focus on questions from/about women. 

May 12 Please note that a few things have changed since she spoke: vaccines have now been approved for children 12-15, and it is now also easier to sign up for an appointment than it was when she spoke. 

How was the COVID vaccine DEVELOPED SO FAST?

This very short (1 minute 14 sec) video made by a local NBC channel (KCEN in Texas) addresses how the current COVID vaccines were developed in what seems to have been a surprisingly short time.

For more in-depth information about the development of the vaccines, see:

The lightning-fast quest for COVID vaccines — and what it means for other diseases from the well-respected scholarly journal Nature.

One quote from this article: "The world was able to develop COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because of years of previous research on related viruses and faster ways to manufacture vaccines, enormous funding that allowed firms to run multiple trials in parallel, and regulators moving more quickly than normal. Some of those factors might translate to other vaccine efforts, particularly speedier manufacturing platforms."

For a summary of the many other vaccines that are now being developed and tested, see the New York Times' vaccine tracker page

For more big-picture description of the research into COVID--including both successes and failures, and problems like racial and gender inequity in scientific fields--see:

"How Science Beat the Virus...and What it Lost in the Process"   from the well-respected news magazine The Atlantic, which has produced an outstanding series of articles that have addressed social, political, medical, scientific, and economic issues related to COVID throughout the pandemic.

One quote from this article: "No other disease has been scrutinized so intensely, by so much combined intellect, in so brief a time."

For even more advanced scientific information about the development of the vaccine, you can start with this scholarly journal article:

Coronavirus vaccine development: from SARS and MERS to COVID-19 in the Journal of Biomedical Science, from December 2020.  27, 104 (2020).

You can also explore this


There have been big inequalities in vaccination during these early weeks. Scientific American reported on January 20 that White Americans are getting vaccinated at much higher rates than Black Americans. 

A quote from this article: 

Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are dying from covid at nearly three times the rate of white Americans, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis. And non-Hispanic Black and Asian health care workers are more likely to contract covid and to die from it than white workers. (Hispanics can represent any race or combination of races.)

“My concern now is if we don’t vaccinate the population that’s highest-risk, we’re going to see even more disproportional deaths in Black and brown communities,” said Dr. Fola May, a UCLA physician and health equity researcher. “It breaks my heart.”

The New York Times reported in spring 2021 that wealthier areas where more White people live in Manhattan and Staten Island had received shots at higher rates than poorer neighborhoods where there are more people of color.

In order to reduce inequities, New York State has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force led by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, Attorney General Letitia James, National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial, and Healthfirst President & CEO Pat Wang. For more on their work, please click here.

On a global scale, wealthier countries also have greater access to the vaccine.  Oxfam estimates that 90 out of 100 people in low-income countries will not be vaccinated this year.

For more information on how wealthy countries not making the vaccine available to poorer countries endagners everyone, you can listen to or read this interview with epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves at this episode of The Atlantic's podcast "Social Distancing".    

A quote from this interview: "Corporations don’t want to give away things for free. In the case of Moderna, taxpayers in the U.S. invested billions in the development of that immunogen. We’re not asking for something for free. We already paid for need to make it free and accessible across the rest of the world."

screenshot of Dr. Ala Stanford being interviewed on MSNBCDr. Ala Stanford, pediatrician, surgeon, and founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, explains the racial inequity in getting access to vaccines in Philadelphia, which like many cities has already seen Black communities being disproportionately harmed by COVID; she also talks about the Consortium's work to make things better.

Howard University Hospital PSA