NEW YORK — The city is planning to vaccinate New Yorkers against COVID-19 with this week’s allocated supply in addition to the batch delayed by last week’s winter storm, something Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes will lead to a record number of vaccinations — although he acknowledges the sudden supply boom is only temporary.
“We’re basically going to take all of last week’s doses and this week’s doses and combine them and hopefully have as strong or stronger a week than we’ve ever had. The most we’ve ever done in a single week is 320,000. We could be doing 500,000 or more right this moment,” de Blasio said Monday in his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview on Inside City Hall. “I welcome the fact that a lot of supply is rushing in, because that’ll finally allow us to crank up our capacity. But obviously that’s only for a brief period of time. What we need is consistent supply.”
De Blasio announced Monday that the city is finally getting the vaccine delivery it was supposed to get last week. This comes after White House officials said Monday that all 6 million COVID-19 vaccines that were delayed due to severe weather will be distributed by mid-week.
Vaccine delivery across all 50 states was impacted last week after a severe cold front swept across most of the country. On Monday alone, 7 million doses of the vaccine will be shipped out nationwide. Part of those shipments will be catch-up doses from the winter storm delays, while others are part of regularly scheduled distribution.
The mayor said earlier Monday that his goal to vaccinate 5 million New Yorkers by June is still on track despite the delay and limited supply, which has led to people struggling to get appointments.
However, it’s not clear how the logistics of getting a vaccine appointment will play out once eligibility expands, as expected in the coming months, to include the rest of the state’s population. The process to get a shot has been fraught for months for multiple reasons, including the fact that different places offering the vaccine (for example, city hospitals vs. pharmacies like Walgreens) have separate appointment registration systems. (The city has added a website where city residents can search among all locations offering vaccines, but it directs residents to each provider's individual website.) There are also technological barriers that people trying to sign up have had to navigate. And since the state expanded eligibility to people with underlying health conditions, the competition has been fierce as millions of New Yorkers are vying for a limited number of shots.
In addition, some New Yorkers who were expecting to get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine Saturday reported receiving calls saying those appointments were postponed, despite the city’s promises that second doses are reserved for everyone who gets their first shot.
In his Monday night interview with NY1, de Blasio — who has called for the state to allow the city to use second COVID-19 vaccine doses that are being kept aside to inoculate New Yorkers trying to get their first shot — said he had not heard of anyone having problems because of a lack of supply of second doses, and he maintained that the city only schedules vaccination appointments for the supply it has on hand. As of Saturday morning, the city reported having 110,000 second doses.
The mayor says there will be more overall vaccine supply in the weeks to come, as does President Joe Biden. De Blasio is pinning some hope on Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. An FDA advisory committee will meet this week to review and vote on whether or not to recommend Johnson & Johnson's vaccine. If the panel votes to recommend the vaccine, it could receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as soon as Friday.
De Blasio told political anchor Bobby Cuza in his interview Monday night that more companies need to get in on the process.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, Bobby. There are three American pharmaceutical companies, that’s it. None of the others are participating. That doesn’t make sense,” the mayor said. “I think the Biden administration should use the Defense Production Act to really get a whole host of American pharmaceutical companies in the production game.”
De Blasio Responds to the Potential Hiring of 475 New School Safety Officers
Meanwhile, in the interview with NY1, the mayor did not throw cold water on an NYPD plan to spend $20 million to hire 475 new school safety agents. An education department official revealed the plan, which the city calls preliminary, at a recent City Council hearing.
The safety agents are a part of the NYPD, and while they do not carry guns, they have the power to make arrests. Amid accusations that the agents sometimes escalate confrontations instead of defusing them — as one public school student told NY1 — and as cities nationwide have pulled police out of schools, City Hall has promised to reform school safety and move the agents under the jurisdiction of the education department.
But de Blasio says safety officers, who are currently still under the purview of the NYPD, are still needed for now to keep schools safe, and lauded them as being beneficial for students.
“I know that school safety officers, these people really care about kids, they care about families, they’re watching out for them all day long. A lot of them are, really in a lot of ways, like aunts and uncles to a lot of kids in schools and really look out for them and counsel them and support them, but also keep a safe environment. We need them,” the mayor said.
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Watch the full interview above.
This story includes reporting from Rachel Tillman and Jillian Jorgensen.
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