NEW YORK – New York City will launch a campaign in January to vaccinate one million residents against the coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.
The city, like much of the nation, has slowly started issuing the vaccine88,000 people have been vaccinated since the shooting began on December 14. To achieve de Blasio’s goal, the pace has to be increased significantly.
“This city can do it,” said the mayor. “The amazing health professionals of this city are ready.” We’re going to be adding new locations across the city in addition to the many, many locations that are already operational. “
The city plans to have 250 sites by the end of January that will administer 300,000 vaccines per week.
“We are nowhere near where we need to be,” said de Blasio. “We have to go into full swing now.”
New York will open new publicly-operated vaccination centers in school halls and other locations starting mid-month, firing 45,000 shots a week, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said. Some of the city’s existing coronavirus testing sites will offer the vaccine, adding another 4,000 per week.
And the city will send nurses and pharmacists to work at vaccination clinics run by community organizations and clinics for an estimated 100,000 shots per week. Hospital systems and other providers can currently administer 150,000 vaccinations per week.
If the goal is met, the city – the hardest hit in the nation – will give about 12 percent of its population the first dose of the vaccine in January. At the same rate, it would take until September for all New Yorkers to be vaccinated. However, the number depends on how many people choose to vaccinate.
And officials admitted they could miss the mark if they didn’t get enough vaccine doses from the federal government or instructions from the state as to who is eligible.
“Every single person we reach brings us one step closer to recovery,” said de Blasio.
The city is home to an estimated 1 million people in the group with the highest priority for vaccines – healthcare workers and residents and nursing home workers. These groups will likely be the focus of the January vaccination campaign, but other groups may be eligible as not all of these workers volunteer for the vaccination.
The new municipal vaccination centers will follow state rules as to who can get the vaccine. So far, only hospital employees and residents and employees of nursing homes have been admitted. Health care providers in private practices and local clinics will be eligible starting next week, Chokshi said. The city is still awaiting approval for other healthcare workers, such as household helpers.
“In order for us to move quickly, we need to be able to expand the eligibility circle quickly too,” he said. “We want these categories to be expanded as soon as possible.”
Further details remain to be determined, including whether the recordings are by appointment or whoever comes first, and how people need to prove their eligibility.
De Blasio also announced that the city will celebrate March 14, 2021 as a day of remembrance for New Yorkers who died of Covid-19. The number is 25,144 people and counts. March 14th marks the one year anniversary of the first reported death from the disease.
“We have to remember those we lost. And we have to be there for their families every day,” said de Blasio. “We have to realize that 25,000 of our New Yorkers are gone.”