NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — So many seniors eligible for the COVID vaccine have been struggling to get appointments in New York City.

So, local charities are bringing the vaccines to them, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported Thursday.

READ MORE: 2 Found Stabbed In Brooklyn, Police Investigating

There’s a sense of relief for more than 100 residents at the Betances Houses in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx who were eagerly awaiting their COVID shots.

It has been a struggle for them to use the computer to find an appointment. Physically getting to it can be challenging, too.

Alfonso Romaa said it’s like a weight has been lifted off his chest. He had been trying to sign up for the vaccine for weeks, but couldn’t get through, until a local charity called him.

“I’m so happy because there was never any appointments because the system is no good,” said Romaa.


Romaa and Nelida Cepeda were among 130 residents ages 65 and up at the affordable housing facility who received a first dose.

Cepeda said it was like a weight had been lifted off her chest. She had been trying to sign up for the vaccine for weeks, but couldn’t get a booking until the vaccination event was held right in her building

“I’m feeling good and feeling relieved I finally got it,” Cepeda said. “I had a lot of underlying problems. I was worried when would i get it and I finally did.”

READ MORE: NYPD: Bleach Thrown In Officer's Eyes During Clash Between Protesters In Midtown

Klebar Macias was sick with COVID-19 in March, and is scared of getting it again.

“It was very bad,” Macias said.

The charity Bronx Rising saw the need and raised $2.3 million. It partnered with Catholic Charities and Morris Heights Health Center to make it possible.

“To vaccinate 15,000 Bronxites within eight weeks. Our main agenda is to go to NYCHA senior centers, where the most vulnerable seniors are,” said Tomas Romas, who founded Bronx Rising.


Organizers said they still see hesitancy and misinformation about the vaccine in many minority communities.

“A lot of our residents have an immense amount of fear. Fear of government, fear of the [vaccine]. So I think it was very important for us to do outreach and to explain to them why they should get it,” said Susan Camerata of Betances Houses.

“Many of our seniors are not literate about how to use a computer, how to access the internet to search where they can get the vaccine,” said Paola Martinez of Catholic Charities.

Those local charities said making it as easy as possible for seniors to get vaccinated is key.

MORE NEWS: Democrats Strike Deal To Move Forward With Stimulus Bill Debate After Hours-Long Stall

Bronx Rising said it has enough staff to host an event every day, but there just aren’t enough doses available.

Natalie Duddridge