NYC Vaccine Distribution

What is Governor Cuomo’s plan for vaccine distribution within New York State and the city’s public school system?

     With COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing, a push for a nationwide vaccine is now underway. In New York State, the distribution of this vaccine has already begun. According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state has already received over 87,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, most of them dedicated to medical staff. In the coming days, an additional 80,000 doses will arrive. Right now, as we are in just Phase 1 of vaccinations, which strictly prioritizes healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and workers. If vaccine supplies proceed, Cuomo anticipates that Phase 2 of distribution should begin in late January of 2021, and will then prioritize essential workers and members of the general public who are most at risk, specifically those that have underlying medical conditions. However, the vaccine has not yet been approved for children, so it may be several months or even a year before anyone under the age of 16 can take it. 

     The governor also announced that the state has a Vaccinate New York Campaign and website, to provide the public with information about any upcoming or sudden changes in the vaccine administration plan. To make sure that all New Yorkers are able to have access to the vaccine, regardless of cost, the Department of Financial Services has also issued a directive to New York health insurers to immediately cover, without cost-sharing, approved COVID-19 immunizations and administration. As of now, the state has additionally established Regional Vaccination Hubs, led by local hospital systems, which will work with community leaders to develop regional vaccination networks. Each hub is assigned a coordinator who will develop a plan for an administration that matches the state’s guidelines for Phase 2 of vaccine administration and submit it to the state Department of Health for approval. These plans will then be activated once enough doses of the vaccine are prepared to begin the entry of Phase 2 in January. 

      Despite Governor Cuomo’s seemingly thorough distribution plans, many members of New York State have their own hesitations when it comes to taking the vaccine. According to Cuomo himself, an estimated 49% of people are either skeptical or unwilling to take it, which makes distribution very difficult. At least 75 to 85% of people need to be vaccinated in order for the state to hopefully combat the virus and eventually return to normal life. But many do not trust the safety of the vaccine, as it was seemingly developed in such a short amount of time. The governor’s goal is to educate and instill confidence in New Yorkers, in hopes of getting them to eventually take it. 

     As for New York City Public Schools, the distribution plans for both students and teachers have not been mentioned yet. Sarah Zuercher, Director of Health and Well-Being at Poly stated, “We aren’t sure yet where and when people in the Poly Prep community will get the vaccine, but we will work closely with the New York State and City Department of Health to understand the options and we will communicate those options to our community. We also are not yet sure if the vaccine will be required for school employees and students. Until we all get vaccinated please remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance, and avoid indoor gatherings.” As the rest of the state’s plans regarding the vaccine are still unknown, it may be a light at the end of the tunnel, where students and teachers can safely return to classrooms.