ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR) — On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a briefing to update New Yorkers on the state’s response to COVID-19. During Monday’s briefing, the governor said he’s in talks with Pfizer.
Echoing his own refrain that the federal government needs to increase supply of COVID-19 vaccination to states, Cuomo said he will ask them to let New York buy doses of the vaccine directly from the pharmaceutical company.
This as Cuomo has repeatedly urged the federal government to release more vaccination doses to the states. Last week, the CDC increased the number of people who are eligible for the vaccine. In New York State, that means over seven million people are eligible, but the state is still only receiving fewer than 300,000 doses a week. At this rate, it will take more than six months for those eligible in Phase 1A and Phase 2B to be vaccinated.
Cuomo also said that only 62.8% of hospital staff statewide have been vaccinated so far. That ranges greatly by region, and facility, across the state. Cuomo is worried that the lack of hospital staff being vaccinated could lead to a shortage of staff if there is a second wave of coronavirus.
Statewide, over one million doses of the vaccine have been given. “More and more New Yorkers are getting vaccinated,” Cuomo said. “Over 1 million doses total administered. The health care system has ramped up aggressively and we have been very aggressive in our efforts to have the health care system ramped up.”
The state is currently running five vaccination sites, with eight more opening soon. “We have five open and we’re going to open eight additional max vaccination sites this week, so that’s good news0 We also have special efforts to make sure social equity is being performed and we’re reaching out to communities who have less trust in the vaccine,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Commenting on that trust in the vaccine, the governor said health care workers refusing the opportunity to be vaccinated is problematic.
“Unvaccinated doctors and nurses are still a problem,” Gov. Cuomo said. “You put unvaccinated doctors and nurses together with a second strain, that should keep us up at night. Recognizing that priority is still important.”
“My concern is a low vaccinated hospital staff will be the first hospital system to have capacity problems in a surge,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Management differential, the performance differential, the expertise differential is what you end up seeing in a surge situation.”
The governor said the most pressing issue with the vaccine is the limited supply and availability of it.
“Our allocation is nowhere near enough,” Gov. Cuomo said. “A stress to this entire nation is the federal government increasing eligibility, dramatically, but never increased the supply.”
Cuomo said the Trump administration did “a 180” on a previous commitment to release second doses of the vaccine. “Now you have 7 million New Yorkers chasing 300,000 vaccine doses per week,” he said. “At that rate, it would take six months. Six or seven months is a lifetime, so I’m not really eligible if there’s no supply. It was a fraud. ‘You told me I was eligible, but you don’t have a vaccine for me?’ What was the point of it?”
In light of hospitals not administering their full distribution of the vaccine, the governor said allocation would change moving forward. “For the lower performing facilities, we are going to give them less, if any of the new allocation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They’ll all have enough to do their staff, but we want to make sure the faster, higher-performing facilities get more of the new allocation, because we want it out the door, we don’t want it sitting on the shelf.”
The slideshow below shows some slides from Cuomo’s briefing that show the number of doses that have been allocated across the state: