ALBANY — The state will use thousands of public distribution sites across New York to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to essential workers, the elderly and eventually the general public as officials expect immunization supply to increase in the coming months.
The state has received about 300,000 doses of drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine each week since immunizations began Dec. 14, or roughly 1.2 million dosages per month.
The initial supply is reserved for high-risk and all health care workers, especially those who directly work with the public, but eligibility is expected to next expand to vaccinate essential workers and New Yorkers over age 75.
The state’s more than 5,000 pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, county health departments, long-term care facilities, private urgent care clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities will administer the vaccine to those larger groups, and eventually, the general public.
“We’ll be supplying all of these outlets with the vaccine to do the distribution when we get to the general public,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing in the state Capitol in Albany. “The distribution system is going to outpace our supply system right now, which is the way it should be.”
The nation’s vaccine supply is expected to increase with the pending U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval of Oxford-Astra Zeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines.
Johnson & Johnson’s immunization against the novel coronavirus only requires one dose to be effective, and would help the state and nation’s supply.
“We’re distributing 900,000 vaccines for a 2 million population of health care workers,” said Cuomo, adding the state needs another four weeks of allocation to vaccinate all health workers at its current rate and move to essential workers and the elderly.
“If you have a hospital now that says ‘I did all my health care workers and I have an extra allocation,’ contact us and we’ll move it.”
To date, 3,762 vaccination provider sites have enrolled as a distribution site with the state Health Department.
The Capital Region has 343 sites, with 297 designated locations in the Finger Lakes, 351 in Western New York and 150 in the North Country.
The state reports 636 vaccination provider sites at hospitals, federally qualified health centers, urgent care and local health departments are currently active and helping to vaccinate the state’s 2.1 million health care workers with their first of two injections with 37 in the Capital Region, 47 in the Finger Lakes, 40 in Western New York and 25 in the North Country.
“There’s a network out there besides these hospitals where people can go [to be vaccinated] if they’re eligible health care workers right now,” Cuomo said.
The governor requested large police and fire departments and transit workers to organize their employees to help vaccinate first responders and essential workers.
The federal government controls the vaccine supply and allocates vials to U.S. states.
The vaccine is free to all eligible New Yorkers.
Check back for more details on this developing story.