Third COVID-19 vaccine option arriving in New York as soon as Wednesday

Third COVID-19 vaccine option arriving in New York as soon
as Wednesday 1

This story was reported by Matthew Chayes, Bart Jones and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive on Long Island and in New York City this week, bringing a third vaccine into the battle against the deadly virus, officials said Tuesday.

Northwell Health expects to receive its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at some of its hospitals in the region as soon as Wednesday, health network officials said, while New York City believes the vaccine will start to arrive there Wednesday or Thursday.

Johnson & Johnson is the third approved vaccine against COVID-19, following those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots. Those two vaccines — already given to more than 3 million state residents — require two doses to be effective, while Johnson & Johnson is a one-shot vaccine.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday in a statement issued by his office that the state expects to receive approximately 164,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

Those added doses will supplement New York State’s expected supply of Pfizer and Moderna for Week 12 of the vaccination campaign — for a total of approximately 878,080 doses expected, the highest weekly vaccine allocation since the effort to inoculate state residents started, Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo said that, since the New York State Vaccine Task Force unanimously recommended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, “we are one more step closer toward eradicating COVID from every corner of our state,” Cuomo said. “I’m confident that we will continue to see increases to our weekly allocation and in turn get even more shots in arms quickly and fairly, but it will take time.”

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The arrival of a third vaccine is important because millions of New Yorkers have been frustrated in trying to get one of the elusive shots. Cuomo says the state needs far larger quantities of vaccine to quickly reach “herd immunity” or enough people inoculated to bring the virus under control.

The New York City health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the city is set to get its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, to be deployed within days. The city’s focus, he said, would be homebound seniors and others with mobility issues.

Chokshi said the first shipment is “relatively small to start” — about 70,000 doses over two weeks. It will remain “quite limited” until the end of March, when it will ramp up, he said.

“We aim to start that process as soon as possible once we get the vaccine in hand and we work through the protocols to deliver it safely,” he said.

He said the there is a “small portion” of New York City residents who got the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna but did not return for a second dose. Chokshi noted the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will address that problem.

De Blasio said he plans to get the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Slight uptick in virus positivity

Meanwhile, positivity levels in testing for COVID-19 showed a slight uptick statewide and on Long Island, Cuomo said Tuesday.

The statewide seven-day average of new positives was tracked at 3.09%, having registered at 3.08% the previous day. The daily positivity level from statewide test results Monday was substantially higher, at 4.53%.

State officials did not immediately offer an explanation for the rise in daily positivity, though new variants of COVID-19 have emerged throughout New York, including on Long Island. Researchers continue to study whether these variants spread more easily, cause more severe disease or affect the effectiveness of existing vaccines.

On Long Island, the seven-day average increased to 4.02% from 3.98% the previous day.

“New Yorkers have shown grit, determination and dedication over the past year and while progress has been made and there are vaccines going in arms every day, we need to remain steadfast in defeating this beast,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The number of new confirmed cases was 582 in Nassau County, 498 in Suffolk County, and 3,117 in New York City.

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 62 patients, to a total of 5,369.

Northwell Health on Tuesday said the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates in the region has dipped to 916, down from 984 a week ago.

The largest health system in the state said the number of COVID-19 patients has also dropped at Long Island facilities. Northwell said it has 456 coronavirus patients at Long Island hospitals, down from 484 a week ago.

At the height of the pandemic last April, Northwell reported more than 3,400 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Cuomo also announced the state is expanding a pilot program to test the Excelsior Pass during events at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center.

Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, the pass uses secure technology to confirm a person’s vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test through a confidential data transfer, Cuomo said.

He wants to use the technology to help fast-track the reopening of theaters, stadiums and other business.

The technology was successfully tested during the initial phase of the pilot program during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on February 27. It will now be tested for a second time during the New York Rangers game on March 2 at Madison Square Garden.

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