Hochul: State to launch 120 pop-up vaccine sites of 12 weeks as part of #VaxtoSchool campaign

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NEW YORK CITY (WHEC) — Citing concerns over the vaccination rate among eligible school-aged children, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday announced a new effort to boost the numbers.

During a briefing in Brooklyn, Hochul announced the state would be launching 120 pop-up COVID vaccination sites over the next 12 weeks. It’s part of the state’s #VaxtoSchool Safely program, which involves a combination of state-funded digital marketing and resources for schools and localities to host vaccination events.

Only about half of 12 to 17-year-olds statewide have been fully vaccinated, according to the state database.

As part of the pop-up portion, the state’s Department of Health will be working with local government, community-based organizations, and health care centers to set up the sites. Hochul said the clinics will be tailored to the needs of each community.

Starting out, the state will also offer incentives to get the vaccine, including an offer to win one of 125 tickets to the Governor’s Ball.

Keeping with the education side of things, Hochul said each vaccination site will have a medical professional present to answer any questions parents or guardians may have about the vaccine.

In addition to the vaccine announcement, the state launched a website for the new campaign, including a frequently asked questions page.

When Hochul first announced the campaign last Wednesday, she was asked if she would ever consider mandating children to be vaccinated, as they are for certain other illnesses, Hochul said it’s a potential option, but the focus now is on education and hoping parents will do what’s best for their children.

"I am willing to take a look at all options on the table," Hochul said. "Because if these numbers start going up again and we have to figure out a way to contain that or we’re going to end up talking about what happens to school settings or workplaces again, I’m not letting the state go back there again. So I will take more actions if necessary. Right now I’m asking parents to do what’s absolute best for their children."

Hochul also presented some fresh numbers on so-called "breakthrough" cases, reporting that 0.5% of fully vaccinated New Yorkers have contracted COVID.

The governor said she’s ready to offer any help local communities need to get more people vaccinated, including bringing back mass vaccination sites if they need them to get the job done.