Manhattan resident Stephanie Ball was one of the first to arrive at the Javits Center on Friday night for her COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
The convention center became the latest in a series of other sites to shift to 24/7 operations this week.
The decision to add additional hours came as part of a pilot program to distribute the state’s allotment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses.
Turns out, Ball was also one of the first people to snag a nighttime appointments at Javits. The process of scheduling an appointment for Friday night at Javits opened up on Thursday morning.
“I knew that they were going to start at 8 in the morning. So I called at five minutes to 8, and I got this amazing woman on the phone who said, ‘Yeah, we’re not doing it until 8, but you’ll be my first, so let’s just hang out and talk,'' Ball said.
Coincidentally, the convention center started to take on additional vaccination hours only a few weeks shy of the anniversary of Javits becoming a field hospital.
For Ball, who live nearby, things have now come full circle.
“You know, I’ve gone to so many trade shows here, and it's just really surreal, it really is, to see this,” said Ball.
The Javits Center has been a state-run vaccination site since January, so the shift to around-the-clock operations isn’t expected to be too much of a departure for those staffing the location.
Earlier this week, the convention center announced that it had completed 100,000 vaccinations since first becoming a hub.
Brenda McIntyre, also a Manhattan resident, was excited to be among those who were increasing that number even further. She was particularly happy to be getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose.
“It’s just easier to not have to worry about another schedule date,” she said.
Despite the pandemic, McIntyre has continued to use public transportation to get to and from work since last April. For her, getting the vaccine will bring some relief.
“I didn’t get sick, thank God. I didn’t want to keep pushing my luck,” McIntyre said.
Others getting the shot at the Javits Center were looking forward to things they haven’t in quite some time.
One man said that getting the vaccine will make more things possible now.
“I would like to travel. I’ve been here for more than six months, half a year stuck in New York more or less and I just want to go out and travel,” said Manhattan resident Jokim Nissinen.
While the Javits Center is one of several locations to begin operating 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is only being distributed at the convention center from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Other mass vaccinations sites have different hours for distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.