State expects first COVID-19 vaccines by middle of December

State expects first COVID-19 vaccines by middle of December
Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines the difficulties ahead of trying to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed while at the same time delivering vaccines to 19 million New Yorkers -- twice. (Source: WWNY)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - New York will get its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in about two weeks.

At a news conference in Albany Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state will get 170,000 doses of a Pfizer vaccine on December 15.

The vaccine has to be administered to each person twice, so Pfizer will send another 170,000 doses for the same people within 21 days after the first batch.

Those 170,000 doses, however, aren’t enough to inoculate everyone on the first tier of priority patients, which are health care workers, nursing home residents, and nursing home staff.

The state has roughly 80,000 nursing home residents being cared for by about 130,000 staff.

There are about 600,000 health care workers in the state, he said. People who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients will be vaccinated first.

Cuomo said the state is expecting around 40,000 doses of a vaccine from Moderna around the end of the month.

After that point, Cuomo said, state officials are being told there will be another shipment every seven to 10 days.

As to when enough vaccine will be available for the entire population, “some say as soon as June, some say not until September,” the governor said. “Again, nobody knows because there are too many variables.”

The governor said roughly 75 to 80 percent of people will have to be vaccinated before everyone is considered safe.

Cuomo said in the meantime, the state has to try to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients while at the same time develop a distribution plan for the vaccine.

“It’s going to be an incredibly challenging period to undertake both of these at the same time,” he said.

Distributing the vaccine alone “will be the largest governmental operation undertaken since World War II, in my opinion,” he said, noting that it’s taken nine months to perform almost as many COVID-19 tests as there are people in the state.

And, he said, the tests are much simpler to administer than trying to vaccinate everyone twice.

Compounding the problem, he said, is the distribution could cost the state around $1 billion when it is already suffering a huge deficit because of the pandemic.

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