Unregistered elderly residents get break at NYC COVID vaccine center

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Some elderly residents caught a break at a new Manhattan COVID-19 vaccination site Tuesday — showing up without the required appointment and still getting immunized.

“We weren’t registered. We saw it on television that it was opened 24/7. We got in an Uber, and we just come here,” Greg Kayne, 92, said of him and his wife, Karen, 77, at the downtown city vaccination hub at 125 Worth St.

“They took us right away,” Kayne said.

The move at the just-opened ’round-the-clock Department of Health site came the day after The Post reported that a slew of people, particularly the elderly, were having trouble navigating the city’s lengthy, baffling required pre-registration process both online and by phone.

The city nevertheless warned that Tuesday’s lucky few were the exception, not the rule.

“The policy hasn’t changed — New Yorkers need an appointment to be vaccinated,” DOH rep Patrick Gallahue said in an email to The Post.

“In some rare instances, to ensure any excess vaccine is not wasted at the end of the day or that vacancies are used, we have been able to find eligible individuals to slot into that vacancy by making an appointment onsite right then.

“But do not plan on this — make an appointment, or you may leave disappointed.”

Some confused older people said Monday — the first day those age 75 and older became eligible across the board to get the vaccine — that they made the journey to immunization centers, only to be rebuffed because they didn’t pre-register.

A sympathetic worker at the Worth Street center said Tuesday, “We are not turning anyone away.’’

Another employee said, “We know they might have problems registering,” so while those who showed up Tuesday without pre-registering still had to fill out the proper forms before getting immunized, they got on-site help with the paperwork — and then a shot.

There were several open slots available because some people who signed up to get the vaccine never showed, staffers said.

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at Queens Police Academy
A health care worker prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Queens Police Academy.
Jeenah Moon/Pool via Reuters

Steven Gutman and his wife, Carol, both in their 80s, traveled from 72nd Street uptown to get vaccinated at the Worth Street site.

“We preferred coming here than going to a hospital,” Steven said of the couple, who pre-registered. “I feel safer here.

“Everything was terrific,’’ he said of the process.

His wife added that the vaccine means “we can see our grandchildren soon.

“We haven’t seen them in more than a year.’’

But others who got vaccinated Tuesday echoed previous gripes that the system is taxing at best.

“You have to have a strong internet literacy to navigate this process,” Mia Cioffi-Henry, 34, a filmmaker and professor at New York University, said of registration.

“I wish it was simple … a little bit more easier to navigate.

“I feel very lucky to get my vaccine today, but I know a lot of people who couldn’t get appointments for three weeks out.’’

Yvonne Chung, 66, a health care worker, said she had no problem signing up for her appointment — but it was a nightmare trying to register her brother-in-law, who is over 75.

She said she repeatedly called the city’s appointment hotline Monday night for her in-law, but the number was either busy or no one picked up.

“I just gave up,’’ she said. “I will try again tonight.

“I thought there would be a 24-hour hotline to help people, it would be a little more easier,” she said.

“These are the ones that are left behind,’’ Chung said of her older brother-in-law. “You feel bad for these people. They don’t know the language, they don’t know the system.

“There is no communication for these guys.”

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