NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio took ownership Tuesday of the city’s initial failure to fast track the distribution of COVID vaccines. This as the city and state implored the federal government to make more available.
The city will open mass vaccination centers in all five boroughs, including the Brooklyn Army Terminal, La Marqueta in East Harlem and the Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx, as the mayor is out to prove he is capable of affectively vaccinating New Yorkers, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives COVID Update
It came on the heels of an embarrassing disclosure that the city only used 31% of the vaccine doses it was given.
“Now we have got to sprint. So that’s on us. That’s on me personally. I take full responsibility,” de Blasio said.
Saying vaccine distribution is a life or death matter, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker kept up the pressure, making it clear they expect every hospital, including those in New York City, to get the vaccine into people’s arms as quickly as possible.
“Some mayors are better than others,” Cuomo said.
“I have spoken to several hospital CEOs. They need to be aggressive,” Zucker added.
Those who want to get a vaccine will have to practice patience, because while the city and state have plans to open numerous vaccination centers, it will require an uptick in vaccine production to treat the state’s 20 million people.
Right now, the state is receiving just 300,000 doses a week. It got only 900,000 doses to begin treating the 2.1 million health care workers in the first batch of those eligible. The next batch is 2.5 million essential workers and people over 75.
If the 300,000 doses a week allotment continues, it would take more than two months to vaccinate those in Group 2.
So how do you square the shortage of vaccine with the fact that the city has been slow to distribute it?
“The first few weeks we had to make sure that things were safe, that we really could use the vaccine properly — brand new vaccine, brand new reality, different refrigeration,” de Blasio said.
Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives COVID Update
At the Harlem District Health Center, where the vaccine was given out, people said the city has to do a better job of getting the message out, adding most had to go online, themselves, to see if they qualified and where to find clinics, CBS2’s John Dias reported.
“I just hunted it out myself. I didn’t see any advertisement at all for that,” resident Andrew Glass said.
“I’ve been checking the website daily to see if there was new information,” Kelly Piccurro added.
Picciurro, a physical therapist, got her shot days after her New Jersey friends in the same medical field got theirs.
“A little behind but I’m happy, happy that it happened,” she said. “Hopefully it will be a lot quicker for next groups.”
This as New York state confirmed Monday its first diagnosis of the contagious new strain in Saratoga Springs, which could lead to more hospitalizations.
The governor said that once the state gets more doses he wants to open up a vaccine clinic at the Jacob Javits Center.
CBS2’s Marcia Kramer and John Dias contributed to this report
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