Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state of New York expects to receive its first allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government by December 15. If all safety and efficiency approvals are granted, enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available for 170,000 New Yorkers. Additional vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna are expected to arrive in the state later this month. And of this allotment, New York City expects that it will receive 480,000 doses by early January, mayoral spokesperson Bill Neidhardt told the New York Times.
“The goal line is in sight,” Cuomo said during a press conference on Wednesday. “It depends on us. How many people get vaccinated, how quickly.”
The 170,000 doses expected to arrive on December 15 include the first allocation of Pfizer vaccines and officials expect an additional 170,000 doses of the vaccine later this month for that same group of New Yorkers. The Pfizer vaccine consists of two doses that need to be administered three weeks apart.
An allocation of Moderna vaccine doses is expected to arrive in New York this month as well, but the number of doses anticipated from the Moderna batch is not known yet, according to the governor. The two Moderna doses must be given four weeks apart.
In a Thursday press conference, Governor Cuomo showed New Yorkers what a shipment of the Pfizer vaccine looks like (as seen in the photo above). There are very specific shipping and handling protocols (it comes with a GPS tracking chip and a thermal monitor), and the vaccine must be kept in ultra-cold storage in special freezers. The Moderna vaccine can be kept in regular freezers.
In his Thursday press conference, Mayor de Blasio explained that the Health Department currently has the capacity to receive, store, and ship up to 32,000 doses of ultra-cold (-80 degrees Celcius) vaccines, along with millions of frozen vaccines, which is in addition to the 50+ hospitals that already have ultra-cold storage or will be having these freezers delivered soon, “for a total citywide storage capacity of at least 1.5 million doses.”
Of the 480,000 doses New York City expects to receive by early next year, half will be from Pfizer and half from Moderna. Both are still awaiting final FDA approvals.
By the end of December, the federal government estimates 40 million vaccine doses will be available, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million Americans or 6 percent of the population.
Infectious disease experts have calculated that between 75 percent and 85 percent of the country needs to be vaccinated in order to return to “normal,” which could be anywhere from June to September to get to that point. A November poll from Gallup found just 58 percent of Americans would get the COVID-19 vaccine when available.
On Tuesday, a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that health care workers and nursing home residents and staff should be the first groups to receive the vaccine. This recommendation matches a plan put together by Cuomo in October, which laid out five phases for vaccine distribution. The New York City Council is meeting later this morning to further discuss the vaccine distribution plan.
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Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on December 2, 2020, under the headline “New York will receive 170,000 COVID vaccine doses by December 15.” It has been updated with new information.