Still, obstacles remain.
The sign-up system
Walking down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Derrick Williams, 72, hung up the phone after talking with his daughter, who he said had been trying to get him an appointment. Technology had made it difficult for him to schedule one himself, said Mr. Williams, who immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. “Elderly people, we don’t understand the phone, the computer,” he said, waving his iPhone. “They need to make it easier for us.”
Many people said they had been stymied by backlogs. Yesenia Abreu, 42, a secretary at Pagan Driving School in Washington Heights in Manhattan, said she had been trying to make an appointment for her aunt. “She doesn’t know how to deal with technology and the site is always crashing,” said Ms. Abreu, who also said the city had not provided enough information in Spanish.
Many of those interviewed — including people already eligible for the vaccine, like older adults and restaurant delivery workers — said they had not tried to book appointments because they worried about reports of mild side effects, or people who had died after getting the vaccine, even though no direct links have been found.
“My family is united on the matter; they don’t want me to take the vaccine. I’ll stick with wearing a mask,” said Ao Gui Qin, 68, an immigrant from China. Ms. Ao has been selling face masks and rubbing alcohol on a sidewalk in Flushing, Queens, for the past year, including, more recently, a $5 mask featuring an image of President Biden.
Twahair Mohammad, who is from Myanmar, stopped to speak with The Times while delivering food in his neighborhood of Elmhurst, Queens. He said he preferred to wait and see if there were side effects of the vaccine. “I’m scared right now,” said Mr. Mohammad, 39, who delivers food for an app on an electric bicycle. “I need it, but not right now.”
Mariam Diallo, 42, a resident of the South Bronx who is originally from Guinea, said she was not interested in the vaccine and was unlikely to change her mind when her turn came: “I don’t want to put any bacteria in my body.”
Otto Charles, a Flatbush resident whose parents are from Haiti, said city officials had neglected his community at the height of the pandemic, which was enough to sow mistrust. Mr. Charles, 47, said the officials had failed to even stop local price gouging for items such as Lysol disinfectant, which he saw as evidence that he and his neighbors had been left to fend for themselves.