NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio wants wider authority to vaccinate vulnerable New Yorkers, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the city is not moving fast enough to vaccinate those who already qualify under state standards.
Speaking to reporters from the Blue Room of City Hall on Thursday, de Blasio for the third time this week called for expanded vaccination authority, a power he says the state is holding back from the city even as infection rates continue to increase.
"What helps is to be able to reach anyone who's ready, willing, and able right now, and is his priority," de Blasio said.
But just hours later, Cuomo held a conference call with reporters to double down on what he says is federally mandated guidance which only allows jurisdictions to vaccinate specific populations outlined in specific categories, beginning with front-line health care workers.
"We have to get the health care workers immunized. That's federal guidance, that's state guidance," Cuomo said.
The back and forth between the governor and the mayor is continuing as infection rates are increasing across the state and New Yorkers wonder when and where they will have access to the vaccine.
So far, only health care workers in the 1A category, as outlined by the federal government, qualify to get the vaccine. The group includes high-risk health care workers, residents and staff at nursing homes, EMS workers, urgent care providers and workers administering the vaccine.
The 1A category was additionally expanded this week to include other health care workers, such as home health aides and hospice workers, and doctors in private practice.
Despite the expansion, de Blasio says the city is ready to inoculate even more vulnerable New Yorkers, mainly the elderly and essential workers, including NYPD and correction officers.
"If I've got someone over 75 who's vulnerable and is ready right now to be vaccinated, and I could be vaccinating them, there's no reason I shouldn't be doing that right now," de Blasio said. "If I've got an essential worker or first responder who's ready right now, we can organize within our agencies very efficiently."
But the governor says efficiency is exactly what's lacking. The city, according to Cuomo, has yet to demonstrate its ability to distribute the available vaccine supply.
Cuomo said the city's public hospital vaccination rate is falling below expectations. So far, out of 917,000 eligible health care workers in the 1A category, only 144,000 have received a vaccine.
"That's roughly 14 percent of the health care population," Cuomo said. "That is the problem with New York City."
As confusion continued Thursday, both men's top spokespeople took to Twitter to bicker over the details.
There was one thing both elected leaders did agree on: condemnation of President Donald Trump, a day after a mob of violent Trump supporters breached the Capitol. De Blasio echoed calls by Sen. Chuck Schumer to have the president immediately removed from office.
"We have never seen a president of the United States attempt to overthrow the Congress," de Blasio said. "He called together a mob. He pointed them at the U. S. Congress. He told them, 'Go disrupt.'"
Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.
Looking for an easy way to learn about the issues affecting New York City?