Mass vaccination sites open in New York

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Two round the clock mass vaccination sites have opened in New York with city authorities having the goal of inoculating one million residents by the end of the month.

Home healthcare aid Claudia Zain, was one of the first to attend the mass centre at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, saying it left her excited and hopeful for the future as the United States struggles to contain the raging pandemic.

The Brooklyn site and another at Bathgate Contract Postal Station in the Bronx will be open for 24 hours, seven days a week. Three other smaller sites also opened in Brooklyn, the Bronx and in Queens.

In New York, like in much of the United States, efforts to get the two vaccines that have so far been authorised into the arms of Americans have moved slower than hoped due to a slew of issues. They included strict rules controlling who should get inoculated first, with some healthcare workers at the front of the line declining the shots, and a lack of planning or direction on the federal level.

As of early Sunday, New York City had administered 203,181 doses of the vaccines to its residents out of more than 524,000 doses that have been delivered, data from the city’s health department showed.

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who previously said all healthcare workers should be inoculated before the state moved on to other categories, changed course, saying people aged 75 and over could receive the shot starting on Monday.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff should have priority for the limited supply of vaccines. The agency softened that guidance on Friday, recommending that states move to those next on the list – people over age 75 and so called “essential” workers – to accelerate lagging vaccination programs.

The United States is now averaging 3,000 deaths and 245,000 new cases a day, according to a Reuters tally of public health data. Surging hospitalisations and overflowing intensive care units are stretching healthcare systems to the breaking point.

North Carolina and Virginia both set one-day records for new cases on Saturday. They are among 22 states that have set records for daily infections this month, and health experts warn new variants of the virus may lead to an even greater surge in infections.

A highly transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom in December has now been found in at least nine US states.

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