Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arriving in five NYC hospitals Monday

Michelle Chester, Northwell's director of employee health services, has been administering the vaccinations throughout the morning.
Photo by Dean Moses

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced five New York City hospitals will receive shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday with dozens more to follow later this week. 

The confirmation came shortly after an ICU nurse became one of the first people in the United States to be given the vaccine at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens–home of a cluster of neighborhoods once considered the epicenter of the pandemic. 

“It’s not just a shot in the medical sense it’s a shot of hope,” said de Blasio. “We have to keep fighting this virus in the meantime. We are going to have a tough December, a tough January…continue to take those precautions.” Officials did not name the five hospitals receiving doses on Monday for security reasons and it is still unclear when vaccinations will begin to be administered. 

De Blasio added that 37 additional hospitals will receive doses of the vaccine on Tuesday followed by two more hospitals on Wednesday. City health officials on Monday said that it is still unclear what is the overall allotment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the yet to be approved Moderna vaccine is for New York City. 

At the moment, city health officials believe that the five boroughs will receive about 465,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine over the next three weeks, according to City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was granted emergency use approval by the U.S Federal Drug Administration last Friday for adults and children at least 16 years of old making the United States the sixth country to OK the vaccine. A decision from the FDA on the Moderna vaccine is expected to come as early as Friday after an advisory committee vote to approve or disapprove the emergency use of the inoculation on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Health care workers at high risk of being exposed to the virus and residents in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes will be the first New Yorkers to get the vaccine, according to the state’s five-stage distribution plan. The second round of vaccines will be administered to first responders like firefighters and police officers, teachers, childcare workers other essential workers such as grocery store workers and public transit employees. 

New Yorkers over the age of 65 and those under the age of 65 with underlying health conditions will then be inoculated against the virus followed by other essential workers and healthy adults and children even though the efficacy of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine on children is still unknown. Researchers recently started trials on teens and some preteens but have not started trials on children younger than 12. 

Last week, Mayor de Blasio assured New York City residents that the city would do everything in its power to prevent wealthy New Yorkers from “jumping the line” to receive a vaccine. On Monday, Dr. Chokshi said that de Blasio would receive the vaccine sometime after “high-risk” health care workers and nursing home residents receive the vaccine. 

“I think it’s very important for public officials to follow the guidance of their health leadership,” said de Blasio.” I will go by my health prioritization whenever that is unless for any reason health leadership determines otherwise.” 

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