The city is gearing up to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as the federal government is expected to green-light the additional doses by next week, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
“We need to be ready to move immediately, and we have proven we can do vaccination on a vast scale here in this city,” said de Blasio at his daily press briefing on Sept. 16. “We’re ready to do this again with boosters.”
Some 1,900 vaccine sites, including 25 sponsored by the city, stand at the ready with extended opening hours, and officials plan to do booster shot outreach including weekend vaccine events, according to the mayor.
“What we’re going to be doing, the second we get the information, emails, texts sent out proactively to folks who are eligible, letting people know as soon as the detailed guidance comes,” Hizzoner said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is slated to meet Friday and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are going to review boosters on Sept. 22 and 23, according to the city’s Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi.
FDA is vetting the Pfizer vaccine first, meaning it will be the earliest to get approved for an additional shot, and more data for the other two shots by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected “soon,” according Chokshi.
“Depending on their review, a booster for certain New Yorkers who received the Pfizer vaccine could get the green light as soon as next week,” the city’s chief doctor said.
Currently, 60% of New York City residents have been fully vaccinated, and 80% of adults have received at least one dose.
Unvaccinated New Yorkers had a more than eight times higher rate of hospitalization due to COVID-19 than those got their shot, and a six times higher rate of death, according to the latest city data.
Health experts are still debating who would benefit most from the booster doses, whether the shots should first go to older people or a broader segment of the population, said Chokshi, adding that not everyone will be eligible immediately and people will have to wait a few months from the time they got their last shot.
Third doses for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are already authorized for people who are “severely immunocompromised,” which includes people with cancer undergoing chemo therapy, some organ transplant patients, and folks with advanced HIV.