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Queens and Bronx Lose Their City Immunization Clinics

By Katie Honan | August 9, 2013 10:31am
 The Department of Health plans to close a walk-in immunization clinic in Corona at the end of the month.
The Department of Health plans to close a walk-in immunization clinic in Corona at the end of the month.
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CORONA — Two city immunization centers in the Bronx and Queens are set to close in the coming weeks — leaving only one in the city and sparking a protest by health care advocates and local politicians who are worried about the state of public health in the neighborhood.

The Department of Health plans to close the walk-in clinic in Corona, at 34-33 Junction Blvd., on August 21.

They also plan to close a clinic in the Tremont section of the Bronx. The move would leave only one city immunization center in Fort Greene.

Health care advocates and union leaders from District Council 37 protested Tuesday at City Hall, saying the plan is “a threat to public health and safety.”

Judith Arroyo, the president of the union that represents public health nurses, said the Department of Health made the decision to close the clinics without consulting with the community.

“We can’t understand why Commissioner [Dr. Thomas] Farley is abandoning what is his core function of the Department of Health, and one of the reasons for it’s existence,” she said.

According to the union, the Corona clinic served more than 15,000 patients, including over 4,000 children, in 2012. 

The Department of Health, though, said the decision to close the clinics was not taken lightly — and noted there are over 20 primary providers that provide a similar service in the borough.

“While we are reluctant to close clinics, the agency has decided to restructure and consolidate services to preserve essential functions and reduce overall cost of operations, knowing that less than 1% of all vaccinations in NYC occur at our clinics,” they said in a statement.

Residents can also get free or low-cost immunizations at 22 private primary providers in Queens, and they are still available at the department's clinic in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

The staff at both clinics would be reassigned, they said.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said the timing of the closure was especially troubling as many parents rush to get their children immunized before the start of school.

“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,” she said in a statement.

And state Sen. Jose Peralta blasted the city for cutting an “essential children’s health provider” in Corona as the neighborhood’s population grows.

"Parents in this community already have a hard time finding a seat for their children in a real classroom, now the city wants to make it harder for them to get their kids immunized for school,” he said in a statement.

The union plans to protest at the Corona clinic next week, they said.