Seventy-three New York City health care workers received their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on the initial day of its rollout at five hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday as he declared that the city’s vaccination effort will “move very fast.”
Nearly 42,000 doses of the vaccine were expected to be available Tuesday at 42 public and private hospitals across the Big Apple, de Blasio said during a City Hall press briefing.
“Today we begin the work of ensuring the vaccine reaches as many New Yorkers as possible, as quickly as possible,” said de Blasio, who referred to the vaccine as “a shot of hope.”
“It is a reminder that the war against the coronavirus will soon be over,” de Blasio added.
The two-dose vaccine, developed by the Manhattan-based drugmaker and German company BioNTech, is the first federally-approved coronavirus vaccine.
The largest vaccination effort in American history officially got underway Monday as the first shipments of the vaccine arrived at locations across all 50 states.
Queens critical-care nurse Sandra Lindsay who has been on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis became the first person in the nation to get the first non-trial dose of the vaccine during Monday’s historic rollout.
“This is going to move very fast. This is going to really speed up,” de Blasio said of the city’s vaccination effort.
Bill de Blasio observe vaccinations of health care worker Tara Easter at NYU Langone Health in Manhattan.Michael Appleton
“What we’ve seen so far is our hospitals are ready. They have been waiting for this moment and preparing and it’s incredibly encouraging to see the vaccine here and go into action,” said de Blasio.
Front line health care workers and nursing home staffers and residents remain the top priority in the initial phase of the rollout.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi explained that over the course of this week and next week, the vaccination effort will focus on high-risk health care workers, and starting next week city nursing home staffers and residents are slated to receive their first doses.
From there, vaccinations will then be expanded to other health care workers, Chokshi said.
“The initial phase will take at least a few weeks to get through and then we’ll start expanding the circle out after that,” the health chief said.
Chokshi added that the hope is to have the ability to have New York City’s general public vaccinated by “mid-2021.”
“So much depends on the supply of the vaccine that will be available,” said Chokshi, noting that more will be known on that front in the coming weeks.
Over the next three weeks, the city expects to have 465,000 doses delivered, Chokshi has said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection rates continue to steadily rise in the Big Apple.
“We are just on the verge of a huge breakthrough with the vaccine, but we’re also dealing with a second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio said.
The latest city data shows that the city has a 5.51 percent infection rate on a seven-day rolling average, while the seven-day average of new confirmed and probable cases is at 2,813.
The most recent data also shows that on Sunday, 160 people were admitted to city hospitals with suspected COVID-19 and 53 percent of them tested positive.
“Clearly these numbers, they’re going in the wrong direction,” said de Blasio, who again warned that the Big Apple is facing another full shutdown.
“We’re going to need to do some kind of shutdown in the weeks ahead…something that resembles the pause we were in in the spring,” the mayor said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo would ultimately make the decision on any kind of shutdown restrictions.