Privileged New Yorkers won’t be allowed to ‘jump the line’ for COVID-19 vaccine, mayor says

Mayor Bill de Blasio
(Courtesy NYC Mayor's Office)

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that wealthy New Yorkers will not be allowed to “jump the line” for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination slated to arrive in New York City next week.

“We are going to make sure that the vaccine gets distributed according to priority… we will not allow people who are privileged to jump the line, we’re not allowing people to get the vaccine unless it is their time,” said de Blasio.

The state is expecting to receive 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the German biotechnical company Pfizer next week–once approved by that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That approval could come as early as Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Pfizer vaccine will undergo another review on Sunday when an advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviews data related to the vaccine and make recommendations on precautions, gaps between doses and what age groups should be vaccinated followed by a vote on whether the vaccine should be ok’d for mass distribution.

New York City is expecting to receive 480,000 doses of the vaccine by January with the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine set to reach the city by next Tuesday, Dec. 15. A second batch, this time from the Massachusetts-based biotechnical company Moderna, will arrive later next week, city health officials said.

State officials decided to follow CDC guidelines and issue the first round vaccinations to nursing home residents and “high risk” health care workers such as emergency room workers, ICU staff. Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are two-dose regimens, meaning that in order to be vaccinated a person must get one shot and then receive a second shot a couple of weeks later.

“We all have to respect those priorities and our healthcare system is going to be very rigorous about enforcing those priorities,” de Blasio told reporters. “It really matters that people in the greatest danger get the help first.”

Pfizer will ship doses of the vaccine mostly likely from its facility in Kalamazoo, MI in GPS-tracked boxes filled with dry ice directly to 44 hospitals with ultra-cold freezers or other ultra-cold storage facilities in the city, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi. Once received, city health care workers will work to taking the vaccine out of vials and turn them into injections, he added.

All 11 of the city’s public hospitals have ultra-cold freezers allowing them to house doses of the vaccine directly while 10 facilities in the city are part of a system or otherwise have access to the vaccine at one of the 44 hospitals with appropriate storage space.

There is one hospital that does not have access to an ultra-cold freezer which will start administering only the Moderna vaccine, which can be kept in traditional freezer storage, next week.

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