The first person to be vaccinated in NYC was Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse in Queens. The shot was administered by Dr. Michelle Chester, Long Island Jewish Hospital in Queens, part of the Northwell system. Distribution of the vaccine starts today.
“We now begin, today, the largest vaccination effort in the history of New York City today is a historic day for many reasons,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning.”In New York City history, this will be remembered as the day where the largest mobilization ever was undertaken to protect the people of this city, the largest vaccination effort in our history.”
Commissioner Dave Chokshi, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene updated the public on what the public health officials in the city know – and don’t know – about the vaccine and what happens next.
“First, leading scientists have confirmed that [the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine] is a very good vaccine in terms of safety and ability to protect against COVID-19 illness,” Choksi said. “I, myself, have poured over the studies, including what was released last week. Second, the first New York City-bound vaccine shipments departed from Kalamazoo, Michigan yesterday in special cartons, held at minus 70 degrees. They will travel via UPS and FedEx, both by truck and by plane. Third, Pfizer equipped the coolers with GPS enabled thermal sensors so the temperature can be monitored, and the vaccines tracked, to ensure they are received safely. If there are any problems with the shipments, Pfizer will notify us immediately.”
“Fourth, our first vaccines are arriving today at five hospitals. That means that vaccines will become vaccinations today in New York City. Subsequent shipments are expected at 37 hospitals on Tuesday, and two more hospitals on Wednesday. Fifth, hospitals are ready and waiting for the vaccine. And after the initial vaccinations, the data will be reported to our citywide immunization registry within 24 hours of administration so we can securely keep track of who is getting the vaccine. Now, beyond the logistics, let me just take a moment to acknowledge what a remarkable and poignant milestone in our fight against COVID-19.”
Officials don’t yet know whether the Pfizer vaccine works for children under the age of 16 and the FDA has authorized use for ages 16 and up. The FDA’s emergency authorization of the Moderna vaccine could come as soon as Friday, but it is also unknown how many of either of the vaccines the city will get over the next few months. “We have been told to plan for approximately 465,000 doses over weeks one, two, and three,” Choksi said.
How will the city prioritize?
Mayor: “We’re going to be focusing on other health care workers, first responders. We’re going to then be focusing on the most vulnerable people, folks over 65, folks with preexisting conditions or especially folks that have both. But when we do that we’re going to really put emphasis on the 27 neighborhoods that were most hard hit by COVID, that’s neighborhoods of color in this city, Black, Latino, Asian. And we’re going to make sure that they get their fair share. That’s the basic concept.”
Isn’t the vaccine going to be super cold?
Commissioner Choksi: ” It’s [the vaccine] stored it’s at ultra-cold temperatures. But it does get thawed before it’s administered, you know, before it’s injected as an intramuscular shot. So, generally, that will be at room temperature. It takes about 30 minutes for the vaccine to thaw from ultra-cold temperatures to room temperature if you just leave it out at room temperature. It takes about three hours for it to thaw from ultra-cold to placing it in a refrigerator. If it is placed in a refrigerator then when it’s mixed for the shot it will further a thaw. So, you shouldn’t experience any sensation of coldness upon getting the vaccine.”
From Mayor: Daily number of people admitted to New York City hospitals for suspected COVID-19 – 185 patients. Hospitalization rate per 100,000 people – 2.73 today. Probable and confirmed cases of the coronavirus on a seven-day average – 2,137. The percentage of New York City residents testing positive, seven-day rolling average – today’s report, 5.5%.
As of this morning, indoor dining is no longer permitted in NYC until further notice. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery continue. “We’ve got to bring back the restaurants we love, but it’s going to take time. In the meantime, we’ve got to stay safe, because this second wave is very, very real,” Mayor said. “So, we need to protect each other. We need people to be alive so they can next year feel what it’s like to go back to eating indoors and celebrating our holidays with our families.”
Elementary schools and D75 Schools are open to those who chose to go in person. Last week, some 878 schools opened and this week Mayor informs that of those about 250 schools will be welcoming kids five days a week – “either all kids or most kids, or, at minimum, the priority kids we’ve talked about – kids who live in shelter, kids who live in public housing, kids with special needs,” he said.
Get ready for a full shutdown. “The current rate we’re going, you have to be ready now for a full shutdown, a pause like we had back at the end of the spring,” Mayor said this morning. “And that is, I think, increasingly necessary just to break the back of the second wave, to stop this second wave from growing, to stop it from taking lives, to stop it from threatening our hospitals. So, we’re working carefully with the State.”
“The State will ultimately make the decision. I certainly do agree that folks who don’t need to be going into a workplace at this point should do as much as they can remotely. Again, I think there’s a likelihood of more restrictions quite soon. So, folks should start making those adjustments now and get ready to work remotely if they can. Hopefully, we’re talking about restrictions only for a matter of weeks, but we have to be preparing ourselves mentally and, you know, practically for that possibility.”