New York City residents are “doing significantly better” than their fellow Americans at following the rules for their second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
City health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said Tuesday that less than 5% of New Yorkers miss their second doses within the recommended window for the Pfizer and Moderna shots. The national average was 8% through April 9th, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to The New York Times and ABC News.
Chokshi disclosed the data right before confirming that city-run clinics are now offering second shots to people who got their first injections at non-city providers. The policy change follows new White House guidance for COVID-19 vaccine sites at pharmacies. Half-vaccinated people can now walk into any city-run site or federally-run hub at a drugstore to receive their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
“There is an option through the website to request that second appointment,” said Chokshi, adding that the optimal situation would be if people keep their follow-up bookings at the same place as their first dose. Health guidelines call for recipients to take their second doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines after 21 days or 28 days, respectively. But this window can extend up to 42 days if needed.
Visitors will need to either have proof of the first shot in the city’s system or bring their CDC vaccine card. Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted that the new policy could be helpful for new arrivals from out of state, echoing White House advisers who cited college students heading home as a reason for the switch.
“There are situations where sometimes people get a second dose somewhere different than where they got the first dose, and we can work with that under the right circumstances, certainly,” Mayor de Blasio said. “Our goal here is to keep reminding people to get that second dose; however works best.”
The expansion comes days after the mayor permitted walk-ins for first doses of the COVID vaccines at city-run hubs. Governor Andrew Cuomo adopted a similar policy for state-run sites—including the Javits Center—on Tuesday but stopped short of allowing the same freedom for second doses.
These rule changes come after the demand for the COVID-19 vaccines has dropped in New York City. Large portions of the five boroughs remain unvaccinated despite the city’s Herculean effort to administer 6.2 million doses and fully inoculate about a third of the city in a little over four months. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has now been reinstated for anyone older than 18, requires only a single shot.