NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As New York expands the number of people who are eligible to get a coronavirus vaccine, some people say they’re being turned away.

Rafael Ramon Cruz is a 68-year-old parent coordinator with New York City’s Department of Education, eligible for COVID vaccination.

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He says he got an official invite to get shot one at Castle Hill Houses, a short distance from his Bronx home.


He says along with dozens of others, he was turned away.

“We showed our appointment, some got a phone call, and they said they weren’t taking anybody unless you lived in the immediate projects,” Cruz told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.

“But they had invited you,” Carlin said.

“They had invited me and I showed him the thing, but they said, oh no there’s been a mistake,” Cruz said.

He says the run-around for him was just beginning, and hours later, he wound up at Yankee Stadium, which opened as a vaccination center on Friday.

Cruz says once there, he was told to get in line and register. He waited in line for two hours and managed to schedule an appointment for next week.


There can be a feeling of elation when getting the appointment and then a shot without getting a run-around.

Just ask 75-year-old Julie, who did not want to give us her last name. She scored an appointment without a hitch at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church.

“Excellent. My pastor gave out the information Monday night, I called Tuesday morning, and I had an appointment for today. They gave me an appointment,” she said.

At Yankee Stadium, Jeanette Cambrelen, of Baychester, proudly displayed a sticker that’s her souvenir from getting COVID vaccine shot number one.

“I feel more powerful now,” she said, laughing.

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But city and state officials admit there should be more happy cases and fewer instances of vaccine inequities and confusion.

Ninety-two-year-old Ramona Schoen said she was turned away from a Harlem vaccination site because her primary address is Plainview, Long Island.

“To me, it’s a disgrace. It’s just a disgrace,” Schoen said.

She said she made her address clear on the application, got the appointment and went only to get her time wasted and be left in limbo.

“They should have the vaccine available, and especially when they give you an appointment and then reject you,” she said.

She did not reschedule an appointment, so she turned to the Vaccine Appointment Assistance Team, or VAAT, which provides free technical help for seniors, booking appointments for them.

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VAAT’s cofounder Jason Lowe says seniors are being neglected.

“New York could give an advantage to the seniors. They could open up appointments for a certain period of time … exclusively for seniors,” he said.

Seniors looking for assistance can contact the Vaccine Appointment Assistance Team by calling 501-510-0251 or emailing

Even with new vaccination sites opening, the ongoing lack of supply means problems persist.

Now, the schedule is getting sticky due to the impending winter storm on Sunday.

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Abyssinian Baptist Church is one of seven vaccine hubs being closed by the state, and some state-run mass sites for testing and/or vaccinations will close.

Staying open for vaccination appointments are Yankee Stadium, the Javits Center and the Westchester County Center, along with city-run sites.

Anyone with a canceled appointment due to snow is being promised they will be rescheduled for later in the week.

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Dave Carlin