New York’s Hottest Vaccination Site Is Now The American Museum Of Natural History

With all city-run vaccination sites now open for walk-in appointments, New Yorkers have no shortage of possible places to get jabbed. And while venue shopping for life-saving inoculations is a bit like demanding a specific lifeguard while drowning at sea, there is no denying the fact that New York City’s hottest new vaccine hub is the American Museum of Natural History.

That place has everything. Most crucially the Moderna vaccine, but also a suspended model of a blue whale sporting a massive band aid, and a COVID-19 vaccination sticker featuring said whale. While you’re there, may even spot this persuasive T-Rex.

The museum’s famed Milstein Hall of Ocean Life became home to city’s newest vaccination hub on Friday, with plenty of appointments open for all adult New Yorkers (you can also try your luck as a walk-in). Public housing residents and public employees will have appointments set aside for them, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Dakota, an East Village resident and regular at the museum, said she got an email on Thursday about the vaccine site and jumped at the opportunity. “I’m kind of glad I waited until this opened,” she told Gothamist, shortly after getting her shot. “It was fun to be under the whale.”

De Blasio, Congressman Jerry Nadler, and Neil deGrasse Tyson were also on hand for the opening occasion on Friday. As was Celeste Carballo, an exhibition preparator at the museum, who was tasked with designing the 6′ x 2′ felt and cotton Band-Aid now affixed to the whale.

“They said keep this under the wraps, literally, and make a giant Band-Aid for the whale’s flipper,” Carballo said.

Celeste Carballo stands in front of the blue whale, with the bandage on its flipper

Museum preparator Celeste Carballo in front of the whale; Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi is on the right. Jen Chung / Gothamist

The bandage’s creation took five days, and Carballo revealed that the dots on the bandage were airbrushed. “We were debating what size was the right size, and we decided to go big or go home!” she laughed. “So we went with the bigger size.” (“I keep wanting to see the syringe but no one will show it to me,” de Blasio later quipped.)

“One day you’re asked to make a giant Band-Aid, and the other day you might be helping to make a life-sized model of a Tyrannosarus Rex,” Carballo said. “I feel very honored to be part of the museum’s history, New York’s history.”

The goal of placing the vaccination site at the museum, the mayor said, was to entice New Yorkers who might be reticent about the vaccine with the bragging rights of getting dosed at an iconic cultural institution. Recipients will also get a voucher for complimentary museum admission for up to four people—and the coveted sticker.

“Someone said they read about it in the papers and the minute they saw it they said I’m going to go there to get vaccinated,” de Blasio said. “The second they saw you could get vaccinated beneath the blue whale they said: ‘I’m going to do that. I’m dropping everything.”