Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that New York’s first Pfizer vaccine delivery is expected to come on December 15th, and will be enough doses for 170,000 New Yorkers.
A second round of 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which will constitute the second dosage for those designated people, will arrive 21 days later. The state is expecting additional allocations of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as the Moderna vaccine, later in the month or in early January as well.
Cuomo added that by the end of December, the Trump administration suggests there will be enough to vaccinate another 20 million people with two dosages across the country, making up 6% of the population of the United States.
Per CDC recommendations, New York’s vaccination program will prioritize healthcare workers and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in phase one. There are approximately 85,000 nursing home residents and 130,000 nursing home staff members in New York, so the first round of vaccines will not cover all of those people. Cuomo hopes that the second round of vaccines later in the month will at least cover that entire group of 210,000+ people.
According to the New York’s own vaccination guidelines, first responders (such as firefighters and police officers), teachers and school staff working in-person, public health workers and some essential workers that regularly interact with the public will be vaccinated in phase two. People over 65 and people under 65 with high-risk comorbidities and other health conditions get vaccinated in phase three. Any remaining essential workers get vaccinated in phase four, and everyone else gets vaccinated in phase five.
To get the vaccine distributed quickly, the state will need to handle both hospital management (maintaining hospital loads) and vaccine administration (which includes getting federal funding, and lots of outreach efforts on local levels) at the same time.
“This is going to be the largest governmental operation not just through COVID, this is going to be the largest governmental operation since World War II, in my opinion,” Cuomo said. “To give you an idea of how massive this is…this nation has done about 130 million COVID tests since day one of COVID. We need to do 330 million vaccines twice. How long does that take?”
“This state, more testing than any state in the United States, we’ve done just about the population of the state doing everything we could,” Cuomo continued. “And that’s taken us nine months to do a COVID test, and very few people refuse a COVID test, it’s not a frightening test, it’s a nasal swab. Now you’re asking a person to take two vaccines, which is more elaborate medical process, and they’re distrusting about vaccine going in. So this is going to be an incredibly challenging period to undertake both of these at the same time.”
Cuomo announced that Larry Schwartz, the former secretary to the governor, will be leading the effort on vaccine distribution. Cuomo said that he will be giving public COVID briefings on the efforts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the foreseeable future. He also unveiled a new PSA focused on the dangers of small gatherings.
According to the latest state data, the overall daily positive state percent is at 4.63%, and the percent without microclusters factored in is 4.21%. The seven-day rolling average for the state is at 3.97%. Meanwhile, New York City’s hospitalization rate has increased by 120% in the last three weeks, with 642 new cases in that same period, the most in the state.