ALBANY, NY (WSKG) – Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York will receive 170,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID -19 vaccine by December 15th, and front line health care workers and nursing home residents will be among the first to receive it.
The federal government is distributing the vaccines based on a state’s population. Cuomo an estimated 40,000 more doses of Moderna’s vaccine are expected by the end of the month. He says the top priorities will be the elderly living in nursing homes and staff at the residences, and front line health care workers in emergency rooms, ICU’s or working directly with COVID-19 patients.
“By the end of December, the administration suggests that there will be enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two dosages,” Cuomo said. “That means 6% of Americans. That gives you an idea of where we’re going to be coming into January.”
Cuomo says things won’t be back to normal until 75% to 85% of Americans get the vaccine, and it will be months before that occurs. He says the vaccination program will be the largest governmental operation since World War Two. But he says Congress has yet to provide enough funding for the project.
“This state, you could estimate, to do a real outreach education campaign, a billion dollars,” the governor said. “We just don’t have it.”
The state already has a $14 billion dollar deficit, much of it due to pandemic related expenses.
Cuomo says while he agrees with the CDC’s recommendations that the essential health care workers and nursing home residents, and staff get the vaccine first, he still wants a New York State based panel to review the FDA’s vaccine approval process. Polls show as many as half of Americans have some reservations about taking the vaccine. Cuomo says the New York panel will help reduce public skepticism.
“To help build confidence and to counter that existing cynicism,” Cuomo said.
The news on the vaccines comes as the number of New Yorkers in the hospital with coronavirus is climbing at what the governor says is an “alarming” rate. Hospitalizations in Western New York, which has the highest positivity rate , are over 250% above the average rate . Cuomo said earlier in the week that he’ll now include hospital capacity as a factor when deciding whether to designate a region a micro cluster hot zone, and impose restrictions on businesses and religious and personal gatherings.
The statewide positivity rate for the virus on Tuesday was 4.63%.