NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The unofficial start of summer was a bit different at Rockaway Beach this Memorial Day.

As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported, families were urged to stay safe — in more ways than one.

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When the lines outside traditional vaccination facilities dwindled, New York City packed up some of those doses and put them on buses directly to communities. So on Memorial Day, the beaches were a natural choice.

It’s part of a broader plan to increase access to shots, which the city says is working.

On this chilly Memorial Day, sweaters and sweatshirts, not swim trunks, were the preferred accessory.

“I can relax with my family and stuff. I mean, it’s still the beach, no?” Elmhurst resident Gavriel Pucha said.

The 12-year-old wasted no time to take a plunge in the ocean, resuming what had been a Memorial Day tradition that was put on hold last year due to the pandemic.

“Last year, I really wanted to go. I just couldn’t because of the whole thing, you know. You had to wear a mask, and we couldn’t really go anywhere at this point,” he told Cline-Thomas.

COVID VACCINE

Despite many COVID restrictions being lifted, visitors were sparse. But joining them this year was a mobile COVID vaccination bus.

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“Everything on here we would have in a regular vaccination location, except this is on wheels,” said Center’s Urgent Care CEO Scott Orlanaski.

Meeting people right where they are, as hesitancy and a lack of access factors into about half of city residents not being vaccinated.

“We have staff here that are able to give information out and answer questions for those people that need more information,” New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Acting Assistant Commissioner Anita Reyes said.

Kimori Jamison was first in line and now joins more than 13,000 people who have received the shot at a mobile clinic in recent weeks.

“When the vaccine first came out, I was a little sketchy about it. It was too soon,” he said. “But then, I was like, just do it, because my grandmother had got the vaccine. So after she got it, I was like, I can get it.”

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

With each dose administered, there’s more relief, as those activities we long to return to become even safe.

“It feels relaxing to even go outside in the first place and not be so scared about everything, especially with the vaccine out,” said Pucha.

As Cline-Thomas reports, we have certainly come along way, but COVID is still not fully behind us.

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The mobile unit will be at Beach 84 Street until 7 p.m. Monday. Similar clinics have been set up at South Beach, Brighton Beach and Orchard Beach.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas