New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has slammed Gov Andrew Cuomo for refusing to allow him to use thousands of unused COVID-19 vaccine doses for the elderly and police after revealing a high number of healthcare workers are not signing up for appointments.
The Mayor has repeatedly called for the state’s priority criteria to be expanded so NYC can start vaccinating those aged of 75 and all essential workers such as police, grocery store workers and teachers.
He has argued that demand from healthcare workers to receive the vaccine is drying up so the city should be able to move on to the next phase and start giving out shots to other priority groups.
Under state guidelines set by Cuomo, healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff are the first groups eligible to receive shots.
Just 149,932 NYC residents have received vaccines in the last three weeks. The city has been allocated 487,375 doses for use, according to the latest city data.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday slammed Gov Andrew Cuomo for refusing to allow him to use thousands of unused COVID-19 vaccine doses for the elderly and police
‘We need to vaccinate all New Yorkers who are vulnerable, all New Yorkers who are high priority. We need the freedom to vaccinate,’ de Blasio said during his press briefing on Thursday.
‘It makes no sense if I have someone over 75 whose ready right now to be vaccinated, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be doing that.
‘If I’ve got an essential worker or a first responder who is ready right now and we have really efficient ways to reach them because they’re part of the government – we can organize within our agencies very efficiently – there’s no reason to hold that back.
‘If you had a world where everyone said ‘I 100 percent want the vaccine’… then the governor’s theory would make a lot of sense. But on the ground it’s different. We’re at the frontline, here’s what we’re seeing. A lot of people aren’t ready to take the vaccine in category 1A.’
Cuomo earlier this week threatened to fine hospitals up to $100,000 if they don´t finish their first round of inoculations by the end of the week. He also threatened to stop sending the vaccine to hospitals that don’t use their share promptly.
Dr Michael Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, addressed the lack of response from healthcare workers during de Blasio’s press conference.
Under state guidelines set by Cuomo, healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff are the first groups eligible to receive shots
Just 149,932 NYC residents have received vaccines in the last three weeks. The city has been allocated 487,375 doses for use, according to the latest city data
‘When we opened vaccine slots there was tremendous interest… as the days moved on we found that demand began to decrease,’ Katz said.
‘We spent a lot of time walking through the hospital encouraging people individually.’
He said a lot of healthcare workers who had been working with COVID patients for 10 months said they weren’t taking the vaccine because they have either had the virus, had a stronger immune system because they haven’t had it or are not ready to take the shot.
‘All of a sudden we now have appointments available but we don’t have arms to give that injection too,’ he said.
De Blasio said that vulnerable people who are aged over 75 and are currently hospitalized are not eligible to receive the vaccine under the state rules.
‘It makes no sense. If they’re in the hospital… give them the vaccine,’ de Blasio said.
The Mayor also lashed out, saying that the state wasn’t allowing them to move ahead with vaccinating NYPD and corrections officers.
De Blasio said the state wasn’t allowing them to move ahead with vaccinating NYPD and corrections officers despite first responders now being eligible. He used this chart to show the state’s definition (left) and who the city want to vaccinate (right)
People line up at Nassau County’s first COVID-19 vaccination distribution site, set up by Northwell Health and Nassau County, at Nassau County Community College this week
He announced a day earlier his plan to provide shots to 10,000 of the city’s police officers by Sunday.
Cuomo, however, immediately shot down that idea, saying: ‘We need to get the health care population done first because they are the front line.’
De Blasio said his plan to vaccinate NYPD officers was put in place after the state expanded phase 1A of the rollout plan.
While revised guidelines released by the state on Tuesday do not explicitly say that police can now be vaccinated, a de Blasio spokesperson said city officials had been told they could include police and correction officers as front-line workers who are eligible for the shots.
De Blasio said the city ‘very clearly’ interpreted the news rules to mean that NYPD and corrections officers who administer CPR when responding to incidents were now eligible.
‘We were ready to go a do a huge vaccination effort at department of correction and NYPD. We were told by the state they would not allow that,’ de Blasio said, adding that the state informed him it only applies to a smaller percentage of NYPD medical core workers.
Only 5.4 million Americans have been vaccinated so far despite 17.2 million doses being shipped out nationwide. The US has only vaccinated 1.7 percent of the population in just over three weeks, with about two-thirds of vaccine doses currently unused across the country