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Less than a third of New York’s on-hand COVID vaccines have actually been administered

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New York City’s Democrat Mayor de Blasio vowed on Thursday that he’ll vaccinate one million city residents by the end of January. But so far, only 88,000 have been inoculated. New Yorkers have received less than a third of COVID vaccinations on hand.

“The most important New Year’s resolution I could possibly offer you in the month of January 2021, we will vaccinate one million New Yorkers,” de Blasio said. “This city can do it. The amazing healthcare professionals of this city are ready.”

De Blasio also announced a Day of Remembrance to honor those who have died from the coronavirus. He declared Sunday, March 14, 2021, as the official date. March 14 is the day the first person died of coronavirus in the city.

Approximately 630,000 vaccine doses have been sent to New York state, but only 203,000 doses have actually made their way into New Yorkers’ arms as of Wednesday, state data shows. That’s about 32 percent, which is slightly higher than the national rate which is around 22.5 percent. 12.4 million doses have been distributed across the country and are being administered as of Wednesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Over the last three weeks, the vaccine has been administered to healthcare workers and nursing home residents in New York.

“We are far, far behind where we need to be,” said Councilman Mark Levine, chairman of the New York City Health Committee.

He stated that New York has 500,000 healthcare workers alone in the high-risk category.

“We should be vaccinating 400,000 people a week,” he said, calling the inoculation effort “the biggest, highest-stake challenge of the pandemic.”

 

“We’ve set a goal for the month of January—we’re going to vaccinate 1 million New Yorkers in the month of January,” de Blasio said on CNN Thursday morning. “We’re gonna need the help of the federal government, the state government, the manufacturers of the vaccine.”

“More and more people want to get the vaccine and we’re going to do that,” he said. “We’re going to do a call to arms here,” de Blasio said. Community clinics, pop-up sites, schools are among the places where vaccines will be administered. It’s not clear if that would begin immediately in January.

New York has received only 347,525 doses as of Thursday so his numbers do not add up here.

For de Blasio’s stated goal to become reality, officials will need to come up with a well-coordinated planning and mobilization effort, said Ayman el-Mohandes, dean of the CUNY School of Public Health.

“It’s doable but it will require a lot of organization,” el-Mohandes said.

Getting the 500,000 healthcare workers and the city’s other first responders vaccinated is “the easiest part,” el-Mohandes stated. That’s because they are captive audiences you can sign up at work.

Vaccinating the elderly and other private citizens will be more problematic.

“Everyone of the stages depends on human behavior,” el-Mohandes stated. “How are you going to reach these people?”

And getting staffers at healthcare facilities vaccinated has its own set of problems.

Brahim Ardolic, the CEO of Staten Island University Hospital said Thursday that out of 6,500 workers at the hospital, just under 2,000 have been vaccinated.

“We would love to get more doses” from the state, Ardolic said. “I have people who want to get vaccinated.”

“I would love to get 6,500 does on my doorstep, but I’m not expecting it.”

Weekly shipments from the federal government are arriving in New York and they expect to have enough for those who’ve received their first dose to have their second after the three-to-four week period needed between the two shots.

Approximately 221,000 of the 630,000 doses were sent to CVS and Walgreens by the feds for the federally-run program to inoculate nursing home residents.

“New York has had one of the most successful vaccine rollouts compared to other states,” said Gov. Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi.

“The goal is to make sure nothing sits on the shelf.”

To reach 1 million doses, New York City will allegedly double its current vaccine administration capacity from 150,000 a week to 300,000 a week.

The city plans to add this capacity with 100,000 a week from community vaccination partners working with community-based organizations, about 45,000 a week from the city’s to-be-opened vaccine hubs, and another 4,000 a week at two Test and Trace sites, according to Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Service Melanie Hartzog.

“That’s how we get to that overall doubling of capacity,” Hartzog said during a briefing on Thursday. The goal is to double access points and expand to 250 locations at community clinics and pop-up sites around the city.

The mayor said distribution will be coordinated by the Vaccine Coordination Center.

“We will not allow in NYC for people to jump the line and use their wealth or privilege to get vaccines they should not be getting,” he said. “We are already seeing this unfortunately around the country, congressional staffers, pharmaceutical company executives. We want the people who need the vaccine most to get it first, and we are going to stick to those priorities and aggressive. Health care workers, nursing home staff, and residents. Keep building out from that faster and faster, make sure the distribution is based on equity and fairness. When we get out into communities, communities that are hardest hit.”

Trump administration health officials have alluded to a goal of sending out enough doses to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020.

But as of Wednesday, only around 2.8 million first doses had been administered nationwide, according to the CDC. Officials said there is a lag in reporting for some states.

“We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for,” Moncef Slaoui, one of the heads of Operation Warp Speed, said at a press conference Wednesday.

“We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better.”

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