Another Boost In Vaccine Doses Headed For New York

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NEW YORK NOW – About one in every 10 New Yorkers has now received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the federal government is expected to boost the state’s supply of the injection over the next three weeks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Cuomo, who was on a call with the Biden administration Tuesday morning, said the federal government is planning to boost the state’s vaccine supply by 5% over the next three weeks.

New Yorkers receive COVID-19 vaccines in Harlem on Feb. 8, 2021. Credit: Gov. Cuomo’s Office

That’s after the Biden administration already increased the number of doses sent to states twice in recent weeks as eligible recipients clamor for a chance at the life-saving injection. New York received more than 320,000 doses of the vaccine last week.

“The 5% increase doesn’t sound like much, but remember that’s on top of the first announcement, which was a 16% increase, and then the second announcement,” Cuomo said. “Over the past three weeks, it has been relatively significant.”

But Cuomo said supply of the COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t ramp up in a significant way until a third candidate — from pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson — receives approval from the federal government for distribution.

The company submitted its vaccine to the federal government for emergency use last week, and said it could supply 100 million doses to the U.S. by July. The vaccine only requires a single injection, so less doses will be required to vaccinate individuals.

As of Tuesday, more than 2.5 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in New York. That number includes both first and second doses.

Cuomo has said that New York has the capacity to administer 100,000 doses of the vaccine each day, but supply has lagged behind that goal.

About 10 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine, according to Cuomo. Health care workers, nursing home residents, people ages 65 and older, certain essential workers, and people with certain underlying conditions are currently eligible.

More doses could soon be available as well, regardless of the boost from the federal government. Cuomo said New York will be able to reallocate unused vaccine doses that are no longer needed for a federal program to vaccinate nursing home residents.

“We believe it was over allocated,” Cuomo said. “So, we will be reallocating doses from that program into the general state allocation.”

The state may also be able to reallocate unused second doses of the vaccine, where individuals don’t show up for their second shot, Cuomo said. But it’s unclear how many doses would be made available through that method.