NEW YORK (WABC) -- Yankee Stadium officially opened as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at 8 a.m. Friday, with help from a Yankee legend.
Mariano Rivera joined Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday afternoon at the site, which is available for only for Bronx residents. An appointment is necessary, and they can be made by visiting Somosvaccinations.com or by calling 1-833-SomosNY.
"I used to pitch here and save games. Now, this is about saving lives," Rivera said. "I see so many smiling faces, that's what it is, you know? Hope is the name of the game right now."
Appointments are still available, the mayor said while encouraging eligible Bronx residents to sign up. Some 300 appointments were booked just Thursday by city employees canvassing the Bronx.
Bronx resident Jay Cintron stood in line with over a dozen people to grab one of them.
"It's been disproportionately distributed especially the Bronx, one of the hardest hit communities -- a lot of essential workers up here," Cintron said.
While the stadium is operating as a vaccination site from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the mayor said it would be made 24 hours with more supply.
State officials say they have 15,000 appointments ready for the next week, but there is concern they are not getting them booked fast enough.
"Something city and state agree on strongly: We've got to do actions that will really support equity," de Blasio said. "The Bronx has been hit very hard hit in the COVID crisis. This site - this historic site, this amazing site - will be for the people of the Bronx."
Staffers have been doing the work of convincing those eligible that the vaccine is safe.
The clinic is being run by a well-known name - SOMOS Community Care - with shots administered by doctors who work and live in the Bronx.
"The trust is there," said SOMOS Chairman Dr. Ramon Tallaj. "They believe in us, and this is why it's so important that we are choosing to do this. And we're ready. People need us to the vaccine to be given to the people in our community."
There were no fans allowed in the stands last season, so today is the first time the general public is being allowed inside Yankee Stadium since 2019.
"No worry at all, not worried," one resident told Eyewitness News. "I trust science and I trust what they're trying to do with people in regarding to everyone's health."
In addition to the stadium, the state is also opening 35 new pop-up vaccine sites are at churches, community centers and public housing across New York.
Citi Field is also still being planned to be used as a separate site, but there are not enough doses at present.
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