‘We need to go into overdrive’: Mayor pledges to vaccinate one million New Yorkers, create vaccination hubs

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to media after casting ballot in early voting in Brooklyn New York
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to members of the media after standing in line with hundreds of other voters for several hours to cast his ballot during early voting in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 27, 2020.
REUTERS/Mike Segar

The city plans to create vaccination hubs in mid-January in order to double vaccination sites in the city and inoculate one million New Yorkers against COVID-19 next month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. 

Hubs will be set up in spaces like school gymnasiums serving as points of vaccine distribution with the goal of administered 45,000 doses of either FDA-approved vaccines per week. Officials will place these sites in the 27 neighborhoods hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic which are predominantly communities of color, said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi.

Chokshi added that the hubs will be staffed with nurses and pharmacists provided by community-based organizations. 

In addition, officials plan to increase vaccination sites across the five boroughs by providing vaccines at all COVID-19 testing sites and community-based organizations where appropriate.

At the moment, New York state is in Phase 1 of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s vaccine distribution plan meaning only health care workers at high risk of contracting the virus along with nursing home residents and staff are being given the first dose of the vaccine.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines require two shots given to patients roughly three weeks apart. Once a person has received the second of the two shots, they have a roughly 95% efficacy rate against the virus. 

Health officials said Thursday that 88,000 New York City residents have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 since shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in the five boroughs on Dec. 14.

“That’s good news, but we are nowhere near we need to be,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We need to go into overdrive.”

De Blasio said the city’s recently established COVID-19 Command Center will be in charge of deciding how many vaccines will be shipped or administered at each of the forthcoming hubs and which New Yorkers will be allowed to receive them.

“Suffice it to say you will be hearing more and more about that with each day to come,” he said.

There are at least one million people in the categories currently allowed to receive the vaccine in New York City, according to Dr. Chokshi. 

To help ramp up the city’s vaccination efforts, officials are working on doubling the number of vaccines that can be administered in the city to 300,000 per week by the end of next month. 

New York City hospitals currently have the capacity to administer a combined 150,000 vaccines a week, according to Deputy Mayor Melanie Hartzog, and the city plans to reach its 300,000 dose goal but increasing vaccine capacity at community-based organizations to 100,000 vaccines per week on top of the 45,000 doses slatted for the new vaccine hubs.

An additional 4,000 vaccines will be provided at city COVID-19 testing sites, Hartzog added. 

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