NYC doing better than rest of America for second COVID-19 vaccine doses: de Blasio

FILE PHOTO: Argentina continues its vaccination process to medical staff with the Sputnik V vaccine
Empty vials of the second dose of the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine are pictured at the San Martin hospital, in La Plata, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina January 21, 2021.
REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian/File Photo

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed Tuesday the slight concern that New Yorkers may not be showing up for their second doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after getting their first shot because of a larger nationwide trend.

At this point in the rollout, the city has vaccinated about 3.4 million adults with at least the first shot and about 2.3 million with two shots, said de Blasio in his morning briefing.

“The last I checked, in the last few days, we were seeing pretty steady results with second dose appointments, and we definitely want to keep it that way,” said de Blasio. “And there are situations where people get a second dose somewhere different than they got the first one, and we can work with that under the right circumstances certainly.”

The New York Times reported that about “8% of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines have missed their second doses,” which has raised a serious red flag among city and state health officials.

Health Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi said that New York City is doing “significantly” better than the national average and less than 5% of people are missing their second doses within the elongated 42-day period recommended.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that if a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is received, that both shots are needed and are not interchangeable. You should get the same product for your second shot.  

For Pfizer, the second shot should be 3 weeks (21 days) after the first while the Moderna’s second shot should be 4 weeks (28 days) out, said the CDC. If necessary, the second dose can be given up to 6 weeks after.

“However, we’re not resting on our laurels with respect to making sure that every single person who is due for a second dose is reached out to. We use multiple channels, text messages, phone calls, and that’s on top of the system we have in place to ensure that people leave their first dose of the vaccine with an appointment for that second dose,” said Chokshi.

It’s understood that some people have an honest reason for missing it, said de Blasio, and clarified that regardless of provider, walk-ins, etc., people should be accommodated for their second shot at different sites with proper paperwork or vaccination cards.

Chokshi said there has to be a vaccination record that’s accessible or the card on hand in that case to ensure enough time has passed or they have the right product.

Whether people are fully vaccinated or not, de Blasio encouraged people to wear masks whenever they could and to follow safety protocols.

“The only other thing I’d try to emphasize is that we’re still in the middle of a very severe epidemic,” added Senior Advisor for Public Health Jay Varma. “We are incredibly excited about the declines we’re seeing, about 20% declines week-over-week in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, but we still have far too many people suffering from this infection. We need to continue a lot of the efforts until we get to much lower rates of disease.”

Chokshi said that even if it’s not required to wear a mask outdoors as a fully vaccinated person, it’s still reasonable to do it in a “common sense” way when you’re in certain situations.

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