DC 37 And Community Leaders Condemn City's Closing Of walk-in Immunization Clinics
District Council 37 joined community leaders and elected officials on the steps of City Hall to demand the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) stop plans to close walk-in Immunization Clinics in the Tremont section of the Bronx and the Corona section of Queens.
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts called the action “a threat to public health and safety,” while noting that the closures were slated to take place at the height of the “back-to-school vaccination rush.”
As a result of the closures the Fort Greene Immunization Clinic will be the only DOHMH clinic offering free and low-cost immunizations in New York City. The Fort Greene Immunization Clinic will only be open four hours a day, Monday through Friday. Roberts also pointed out that, ironically, August is National Immunization Awareness Month.
Last year the Tremont and Corona clinics immunized 29,108 people, of whom 9,650 were children. The Fort Greene clinic immunized 27,090 people in 2012, 5,599 of whom were children. Critics of the closures also charged DOHMH with abandoning “an essential part of its core public health mission,” saying it increased the risk to the public after consecutive years of new non-seasonal viral and influenza outbreaks such as H1N1 and MRSA.
The DOHMH walk-in Immunization Clinics provide critically important immunizations recommended for children over four-years-old, teens and adults, including Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (Whooping Cough), measles, mumps, rubella, and more.
Several elected officials expressed their outrage over the DOHMH planned closures, particularly those who represent the areas in which the Immunization Clinics are located.
"As the Chair of the Women's Issues Committee, I find it very distressing that the Department of Health will be closing their only immunization center in Queens, especially at a time when mothers are getting their children ready to go back to school," Councilmember Julissa Ferreras said. "The loss of these immunization clinics will not only create a burden for hundreds of New Yorkers who currently rely on their services, but it could also lead to significant public health risks. Today, I stand in solidarity with DC37, the Commission on the Public's Health System and our advocates to call upon the Administration to hear our concerns and work with us to find a solution to the impending issues these closures will cause."
"This is an inconvenience at a time where children's entrance to school this fall will be jeopardized. Busy parents are now expected to travel to Fort Greene, Brooklyn from the Bronx to get their children vaccinated within the limited clinic hours along with the rest of New York City once the Tremont Health Center closes," states Councilmember Joel Rivera.
Councilmember Letitia James, said: "The Health Department's proposal to close 2 of 3 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. The remaining Fort Greene clinic-- which would have limited hours-- simply cannot handle this Citywide demand. There are no clear "cost-savings" in this plan, and to spring this proposal on parents at the eleventh hour is unfair."
Co-sponsoring the press conference protesting the closure of the city Immunization Clinics are community groups Make the Road-NY, the Commission on the Public’s Health System and the People’s Budget Coalition.