ALBANY – New York’s first vaccine delivery – via Pfizer – is anticipated to arrive Dec. 15 and provide enough doses for 170,000 New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week.
Additional Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive in New York later in December. Nationally, by month’s end, it is anticipated there will be sufficient doses to vaccinate 20 million people nationwide, or about 6% of Americans.
The first vaccines to arrive will target seniors and staff in nursing homes, and health care workers, Cuomo said. There are about 85,000 nursing home residents and about 130,000 staff in New York. “You won’t complete that with the first 170,000 (Pfizer doses) but two weeks later we’re supposed to get a Moderna tranche – they haven’t given us a number on that yet.” There are about 600,000 health care workers in the state. Vaccine priority for health care workers will be given to those employed in ICU’s and emergency rooms.
Some studies show a return to a “normal” economy will occur when 75% to 85% of the public is vaccinated. The hope is that may occur by mid-year 2021, although there are many variables to consider, including public skepticism regarding a vaccine, Cuomo said. To address that skepticism, a “New York panel” will review FDA approved vaccines.
Covid-19 Infection rates and hospitalization rates due to the virus have increased across the region, the state and the country during the fall months. In early October, the average weekly positive infection rate among Saratoga County residents was 0.5%. In early November that rate more than doubled, to 1.1%. This week, the rate of infection is 3.9%.
“We hope to flatten the increase in mid-January – when social activity slows down, travel slows down and the increase of the rate slows down,” Cuomo said. “The vaccination program is really the endgame here.”
Cuomo said a comprehensive five-point plan overall includes managing the hospital load, increase testing for the virus, keep schools open - especially K through 8 - prepare for vaccine distribution, and grow public awareness that small gatherings are currently the top cause of viral spread.
“This is probably the only issue President Trump’s people and Joe Biden’s people agree on. Both of their health advisors say small gatherings are the problem,” Cuomo said. “The CDC recommendation for Thanksgiving was: no more than your household. For people who say it’s political: Whose politics are you playing? It’s agreed to by both.”