Dec. 16, 2020 By Allie Griffin
With high-risk health care workers now being vaccinated for COVID-19, Governor Andrew Cuomo is putting plans in place to bring the vaccine to the public by the end of next month.
Cuomo said New Yorkers with underlying health conditions could be vaccinated by the end of January along with all essential workers. He said this would represent the second phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.
“On the current schedule, we think we get to Phase II by late January,” Cuomo said during a press briefing Wednesday. He noted that the vaccine would be free.
The state began Phase I of the vaccine distribution plan this week by vaccinating high-risk health care workers who tend to patients in emergency rooms and ICUs. On Monday, the first New Yorker — and American — to be vaccinated for COVID-19 was a Queens ICU nurse.
Cuomo said the state has already received about 87,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and expects another roughly 80,000 doses over the next few days.
The state will soon start vaccinating nursing homes residents and staff — who are also included in Phase I of the distribution plan. This phase also includes long-term care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners.
The state will then move into Phase II to vaccinate all essential workers as well as members of the public who are at greater risk of complications or death from COVID-19.
Cuomo has appointed a local hospital system in each region of the state to develop a Phase II distribution plan. The Greater New York Hospital Association will develop New York City’s plan.
“This is a medical operation, not a political operation,” Cuomo explained of his decision to recruit hospital systems rather than going to local governments for the vaccine distribution plans.
The hospital systems will work with stakeholders — such as the government officials, community-based organizations and health organizations – to create a distribution plan for their respective region.
The state will then review the plan and upon its approval will provide the logistical support needed to distribute the vaccine, Cuomo said.
The governor said he hopes to establish the best vaccine program in the country and make New York the first “COVID-free state.”
“This state paid more than its fair share for COVID and what we went through in the spring,” Cuomo said. “I want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to be the first state to kill this beast.”
About 75 to 85 percent of a population must be vaccinated for COVID-19 to develop herd immunity.
New York is expecting 346,000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine next week — pending federal approval.