De Blasio concerned about reallocation of COVID-19 vaccine supplies

People line up outside Yankee stadium for vaccines amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 5, 2021.
REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Ariama C. Long

Though Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking to reallocate unused COVID-19 vaccines to help vaccinate New Yorkers with underlying conditions and co-morbidities, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed some skepticism about the plan in his Tuesday daily briefing.

De Blasio said in response to Cuomo that he’s concerned about outreach to communities that need vaccines locally.

“I think there’s truth in the fact that the 1A category has been the longest category and a lot of people were offered the opportunity to be vaccinated who are health care workers. Many of them have chosen not to do it yet. We still want them vaccinated if they haven’t been yet, and I’m obviously concerned about the crucial role hospitals play in community members, particularly in our Health + Hospitals hospitals. So there’s a balance that has to be struck,” said de Blasio.

The 7-day-rolling average of positivity rate is at 8% in the city, but is generally decreasing in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

City Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi, who’s recovering from his own bout with COVID-19, said that the vaccinations at NYC Health + Hospitals are not just for health care workers but in service of low income neighborhoods, communities of color, and the uninsured, so he is equally concerned.

Chokshi said that a combination of expanded rapid testing and hopefully more vaccines will help aid the city’s recovery. 

Cuomo said at a Tuesday conference call there are racial and general disparities in vaccinations of healthcare workers at many hospitals and will call to review underperforming hospitals to address the issue.

De Blasio, meanwhile, said that there’s definitely still a need to reach people at the community level and for more vaccine supply in general.

“I was up there at Yankee Stadium. I saw an incredibly diverse group of people getting vaccinated, exactly what we had hoped to see. The site we’ll have tomorrow in Queens at Citi Field is focused on Queens residents, no one bore the brunt more than Queens in Elmhurst,” said de Blasio. “We do need to keep making moves that encourage equity and address disparity, but it’s all against the backdrop of a fundamental lack of supply.”

Monday, Cuomo said at his briefing the state is at about 90% of allocated first doses which is given to the state week to week. He said there are more distributors, about 5,000, than there are vaccines to give out. 

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