NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One of New York City’s biggest concerns during the pandemic was managing the crush of demand for COVID vaccine appointments, from overcrowding to online booking.

But now, the challenge seems to have flipped. CBS2’s John Dias has more on how, for the first time, thousands of spots have opened up without being immediately claimed.

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What once was the most popular COVID vaccination site in New York City, the Javits Center, now has an abundance of open appointments. So much, that Elizabeth Colon spent all day Thursday online before she got in line Friday for her first shot.

COVID VACCINE

“I’m trying to help all my other friends book appointments as well. There was plenty of appointments,” Colon said.

That’s not just the case at the Javits Center, but many other sites citywide: Thousands of appointments are up for grabs.

“My friends are getting them earlier and earlier,” said West Village resident Emma Bemiller.

More pop up sites and robust supply may be the reason there are open appointments, and Mayor Bill de Blasio said this is a positive thing for New York.

“I like the current situation a lot better. I actually think it’s encouraging people who were hesitant or just were put off by the inconvenience,” he said.

But others fear appointments could start to go to waste. If they continue to go unused, stockpiles of vaccines may increase.

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“Saving people’s lives down the drain,” said Upper East Side resident Dina Sontag.

“In other states where stockpiles start to grow, they’ve been asking for less supply from the federal government. We won’t want to come to that because we have so much more vaccines to do in the city,” said New York City Councilman Mark Levine.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Levine is chair of the health committee. He says less than half of city adults have received their first shot. He thinks the city has hit its tipping point, but believes this isn’t about anti-vaxxers.

“I think next wave of people are those who got discouraged trying early on and said this it too difficult, or people who are too busy,” Levine said.

Levine says people aren’t calling as much into centers to book appointments, so operators should turn it around and call out to people about open sites.

“We should plan to double down on efforts to reach out to communities with trusted local ambassadors to say these vaccines are effective and safe,” Levine said.

Some wonder if there’s increased hesitancy after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on pause. But Levine says the slowdown started right before that.

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De Blasio says 99% of New Yorkers now live within a mile of a vaccination site.

John Dias