A slide from Governor Cuomo’s 12.9.20 press presentation
If all goes according to plan, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be approved by the FDA tomorrow, at which time the New York State panel will immediately convene to review and approve it. Under those conditions, the state could begin receiving its first vaccine shipments as early as this weekend. In a press conference today, Governor Cuomo further explained the distribution priorities–high-risk hospital workers followed by nursing home residents and staff–and for the first time outlined the estimated number of doses each region will receive based on their populations of these groups.
Assuming the Pfizer vaccine is approved, it is expected that six million doses will be available nationwide, half of which will ship immediately. New York expects to receive 170,000 doses initially, and since the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, another 170,000 doses later this month or early next month. The state also expects its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine later this month, assuming it, too, receives FDA approval (this vaccine’s two doses must be given four weeks apart).
The Pfizer vaccine must be kept in ultra-cold storage in special freezers. Therefore, the state has identified 90 regional distribution centers that are capable of this cold storage. These distribution centers will receive enough doses for roughly 90,000 patient-facing hospital staff, which is 40 percent of the state’s total 225,000 patient-facing workforce.
The state has created rules guidance for which patient-facing hospital staff should be prioritized as “high-risk,” which are emergency room workers, ICU staff, and pulmonary department staff. It’s expected that two weeks after beginning distribution, all high-risk staff will have received a vaccine. The prioritization will then move to all long-term and congregate care staff and residents, EMS, and other healthcare workers.
As for nursing homes, New York State has opted into the federal program where CVS and Walgreens employees will administer the vaccine to residents and staff in the facilities, much like they do for the flu vaccine. Governor Cuomo said he expects deliveries of the vaccine for this program to begin arriving next week, with the federal administration program to begin by December 21. Part of the state’s initial allocation will go towards this program and is likely to cover all residents; future allocations will be earmarked for staff and any unvaccinated residents.
As outlined in the map above, the estimated regional breakdown for the first shipment of vaccine doses is as follows:
- NYC: 72,000
- Long Island: 26,500
- Mid-Hudson: 19,200
- Western New York: 14,500
- Finger Lakes: 11,150
- Capital Region: 7,850
- Central New York: 6,400
- Southern Tier: 4,500
- Mohawk Valley: 4,200
- North Country: 3,700
Governor Cuomo reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the vaccine is fairly distributed among Black, Brown, and poor communities, who overall have been hit hardest by the pandemic. He also announced that the CDC agreed to New York’s appeal against a federal program that would have collected identification information from those receiving vaccines, a program that would have negatively affected undocumented persons.
When it comes to more widespread distribution, the governor said he thinks the general population will start to receive vaccinations “probably at the beginning of February on this schedule… maybe late January.” But before the state gets to that point, they will have created online tools where people can find out where they can go to get vaccinated.
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