After COVID-19 vaccine appointments open up to “public-facing” workers this Wednesday, it will bring the total number of vaccine-eligible New Yorkers to 12 million—or about 80% of the state’s adult population.
A state Health Department spokesman shared the figure with the Times Union on Friday, saying, “Our goal is to get as many shots into arms as quickly as possible. As our allocation has increased, we have been expanding the eligibility.”
Last week, New Yorkers 60 and older got the chance to start booking appointments, which added about half a million to the eligibility roster. Starting Wednesday, government and nonprofit employees who interact with the public will join the fray, as well as building personnel such as custodians and security guards. Doses were previously available to those 65 and older, taxi drivers, restaurant workers, and a range of other essential workers.
So far, nearly 6.7 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide and about 22.5% of New Yorkers have received at least one shot. About 2 million New Yorkers, or 11% of the population, have been fully vaccinated. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study on how many people skipped their doses during the first two months of the rollout. Of the 823,922 New Yorkers served an initial shot, 87.2% went back for the second shots of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, while only 4.2% missed it.
President Joe Biden is directing states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1st, but Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state has a long way to go to vaccinate its roughly 15 million adults. He said reaching the 2 million fully vaccinated so far has been a massive undertaking.
“This is an operational and logistical situation we’ve never dealt with before,” Cuomo said during a press conference at a vaccine hub at SUNY Old Westbury Monday. He announced the opening of three additional large-scale sites for Long Island.
Cuomo added that just because all adults will be eligible to get vaccinated in May, that doesn’t mean there will be enough supply. Federal deliveries of first doses for New York rose to more than 1 million during the first week of March—nearly matching the entire total for February.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at his regular daily press conference on Monday that the city doesn’t currently have enough doses to vaccinate all of the newly eligible recipients.
“If we had 200,000 more doses dropped on us this week, we could use them all,” de Blasio said. He has attributed short supply not only to the capacity of vaccine manufacturers to produce doses, but also to the state not giving New York City its “fair share.”
Despite reports of long lines at some vaccine sites during the rollout so far, de Blasio insisted that the city has all the resources it needs to meet new demand.
“Do we have the vaccine centers? Yes. Do we have the space, and even more space available as needed? Yes. Do we have the staffing? Yes, and we’re adding 2,000 more members with our Vaccine for All Corps,” de Blasio said. “What are we missing? There’s one thing and one thing only: The supply.”
Still, de Blasio says he supports President Joe Biden’s goal of opening eligibility up to all adults by May 1st. “I think that’s a great plan,” he said.