Throughout the darkest days of the pandemic, 12-year-old Mia Simpson repeatedly asked her mother when the school bus would return to bring her back to her friends.
Though many young New Yorkers struggled with remote learning, Mia’s multiple disabilities added layers to that struggle and the challenges that came with the new normal of the pandemic, including constant hand washing, wearing face masks and worst of all, social distancing.
“Mia’s compromised condition forced us to really settle in at home during the pandemic’s surge,” said her mother, Yuvania Espino. Mia isolated with her mother, stepfather and younger sister Kira while her mother worked remotely as a contact tracer for the Test & Trace Corps.
When the news arrived that 12-year-old children had become eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, Espino rejoiced. She contacted the health system and learned about the at-home vaccination program.
“It was mind blowing to know that Mia was eligible for the at-home vaccine program and that I didn’t need to consider logistics such as transportation and guidelines, which at times were a bit confusing,” she said.
“The ability for Mia to get vaccinated in the comfort and safety of her own home—to be able to just lie down on the couch and relax—was incredible. We jumped at that opportunity immediately. I called the program’s phone number, a representative gave us an appointment, and then vaccinators were here at our door. It truly was as easy as 1, 2, 3.”
The at-home vaccination program grew out of the NYC Health + Hospitals Test & Trace Corps public health initiative. Once vaccines became available, the same teams who had coordinated at-home COVID-19 testing became teams who set up at-home vaccination appointments for New Yorkers across the city.
The program has administered over 20,000 vaccine doses to New Yorkers in their homes since it launched in early May 2020. Initially, it served immunocompromised and homebound patients, NYCHA residents, and city union members, but in late June, the program opened to all New Yorkers ages 12 and older.
“Through the at-home vaccination program, we’re able to better serve homebound or immunocompromised patients, and that’s been so gratifying,” said Anna Leise, Director of Strategy and Implementation for the Test & Trace Corps. “It’s really been a game changer for New Yorkers like Mia.”
Mia is thrilled to be vaccinated. The fear of falling ill to COVID-19, which has hung over her family for over a year, has subsided. With assistance from her mother, Mia was able to share that she will tell her friends to be brave when getting vaccinated—that it’s just one little “boom” on your arm.
In addition to being vaccinated through NYC Health + Hospitals home vaccination program, Mia has a deep connection to the public health system that goes back to her birth.
“She is one of the special babies discharged from NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem’s NICU—a preemie who received all of her early childhood care at Harlem Hospital and Gotham Health,” said Eboné Carrington, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem.
“I hope Mia’s story will help the at-home vaccination program reach many more New Yorkers like her,” Carrington said.
“Getting Mia vaccinated has provided such peace of mind in knowing she’s safer,” said her mother.
All New York City residents can make an appointment for an at-home COVID-19 vaccine shot at their convenience by calling 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).