New York City’s supply of on-hand COVID-19 vaccines has dropped to 7,700 doses, Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Tuesday.
The city’s sluggish vaccine rollout has been made worse recently after shipments of the inoculation from Washington were delayed forcing 23,000 eligible New York City residents to reschedule appointments for receiving the shot. The city also postponed the opening of mass vaccination sites at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, and Empire Outlets.
De Blasio pleaded for increased first dose supplies on Tuesday, asking the federal government to grant the city permission to administer an additional 200,000 doses of the vaccine that it has in reserve for booster shots. Both FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, require that patients receive two shots roughly three weeks apart in order to be inoculated from the virus.
“We’ve got to make sense of the situation,” said de Blasio. “Just put those second doses into play.”
De Blasio argued that releasing the reserved second doses was the right move given the Biden administration’s pledge to ramp up vaccine production by enacting the Defense Production Act and since a third vaccine from manufacturers Johnson & Johnson is set to be authorized in the coming weeks.
“I really believe that when we move the second doses up and use them for first doses whenever possible it just allows us to do the most essential thing which is protect people,” de Blasio added. “Fifty percent protection for senior citizens is better than no protection at all.”
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have a roughly 95% efficacy rate against COVID-19 after a person receives both shots of the vaccine.
In total, the city has administered 650,546 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine since shipments arrived last month. Out of those doses, 550,715 were first doses and 99,831 were second doses.
The mayor said the city is committed to delivering second doses to New Yorkers but referenced recently updated guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention which state that booster shots of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can be given up to six weeks after the first shot.
“You want to get it to people at the first available moment but if there is a small amount of lag then it’s still entirely effective,” de Blasio said.