City vaccination hubs will be prepared to inoculate New Yorkers in 1a and 1b state vaccination groups on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday, despite not having authority from Governor Andrew Cuomo to do so.
At the moment, only members of group 1a–high-risk healthcare workers and those who live and work in long-term care facilities– are eligible to receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine under state guidelines. But the mayor is pushing for the ability to vaccinate New Yorkers 75 and older, currently in group 1b, since they are at a high risk of suffering severe illness after contracting the virus. Others included in group 1b are frontline workers, police officers, corrections officers, firefighters and daycare workers.
“If we can’t vaccinate the people who are most in danger we’re going to lose lives we did not need to lose,” said de Blasio. The mayor’s top health advisors have stressed that new cases of the virus are up among elderly New Yorkers.
The state does not want to budge on its five-stage vaccination distribution plan with officials arguing that priority needs to be given to hospital workers to ensure medical facilities have enough inoculated staff if a surge in hospitalizations occurs. And that priority needs to stay in place especially since a case of a new and quickly transmissible strain of COVID from the United Kingdom has been identified in New York state.
Vaccine rollout has been slow with only about 167,949 out of the city’s 489,325-dose stockpile–roughly 34%–having been delivered to those in group 1a in part due to some healthcare workers refusing to take the vaccine. One survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found about 29% of healthcare workers were hesitant to take the vaccine.
“You have to recognize that if there is not enough demand to logistically move the vaccine, ideally we’ll move on to the next category,” de Blasio said. “The more people get it the more people will be encouraged to get it.”
There are two 24-hour mass vaccination sites that are set to open over the weekend, at the Grand Army Terminal Annex Building in Brooklyn and at Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx. On Sunday, both locations will only deliver vaccinations from 1 pm to 6 pm, according to the city website. Three new vaccination hubs, which will be open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, will also open over the weekend at the Bushwick Educational Campus, Hillcrest High School, and South Bronx Educational Campus.