In a heart-wrenching plea to Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday, an 89-year-old Manhattan woman said she and her husband are desperate to get the COVID-19 vaccine — and want to know when they finally can get the shot.
The near-nonagenarian, who called into WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” during the mayor’s weekly appearance, is currently not yet able to get the vaccine due to state restrictions.
“I’m 89. My husband is 90. We live on our own and we need to be vaccinated. I want to know how,” the woman, who identified herself as Anthea, said on the air. “I’ve tried to look on the web, but I’m legally blind, so it’s a bit difficult. I can only find appointments and things for health care workers.”
“I need a phone number or a website where I can really find out when we can be vaccinated as soon as possible,” the woman said.
When asked by host Brian Lehrer whether she is homebound or able to make her way to a city vaccination site, the woman responded, “We do both have the ability to get to — I’m legally blind but I can get around. My husband, he’s OK. He can get around too.”
De Blasio, who has been calling for the state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize local officials to begin vaccinating elderly New Yorkers, first responders and essential workers, told the woman that he was “moved” by her remarks.
“This is exactly the point,” Hizzoner said. “You’re 89-years-old, we need to protect you. We need to vaccinate you. You should have the right to get vaccinated. The state has to approve it.”
De Blasio vowed that starting Monday the city will have a phone reservation system for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“But, right now, even with that system, unfortunately, we’re not legally allowed [to vaccinate]. It makes no sense,” the mayor railed.
Call starts at 4:05
Currently, the only New Yorkers eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine include frontline hospital workers, health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, EMS workers, as well as medical examiners, funeral workers and home care workers and aides.
Later Friday, during his own press briefing, Cuomo finally said that the state will begin scheduling vaccinations for those in the next group, category 1B — which includes folks like Anthea who are over the age 75, as well as frontline essential workers.
The move comes after de Blasio has been demanding that the state give local governments the “freedom to vaccinate.”
The city’s public hospital system chief claimed this week that the network had “thousands of slots available” for New Yorkers to get the COVID-19 vaccine – but that the doses are going unused because of the restrictive state rules.
Around 30 percent of eligible healthcare employees have refused to get the jab, Dr. Mitchell Katz, the president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, has said.
During a City Hall press briefing earlier Friday, de Blasio again called on the state to allow the city to move on to vaccinate New Yorkers over 75.
“I’m going to talk again about the need to vaccinate New Yorkers over 75, our seniors, our elders, those we love who are in danger – the single most vulnerable population right this minute in New York City and the state of New York will not allow us to vaccinate them,” de Blasio said.
“This is really dangerous,” he said. “If we can’t vaccinate the people who are in most danger, we’re going to lose lives we did not need to lose.”
De Blasio said that the city has 270,000 vaccine doses “that we could be giving out right now to New Yorkers over 75.”
There are about 560,000 people in New York City over the age of 75, de Blasio noted.
“We’ve literally got twice as many New Yorkers over 75 as the amount of vaccine we have in stock right this minute,” said de Blasio. “And yet we are not allowed by the state law to give a single shot to a single New Yorker over 75.”
As of Friday, city data shows that out of 489,325 doses delivered in the Big Apple so far, only 167,949 doses or about 34 percent have gone into people’s arms — and city officials argue the fastest way to grow that figure is to expand the number of people eligible for jabs.
Previously, Cuomo has said that if local governments have not used their allocated amounts of vaccine they can be re-allocated for those already eligible.
Meanwhile, de Blasio on Friday put blame on both the federal government and the state for the slow pace of the vaccinations of those in nursing homes across the city.
De Blasio, citing city data, said Gotham has about 100,000 living or working in nursing homes, yet only “16,000 or so” have been vaccinated.
There’s an allotment of about 54,000 vaccine doses for that group, the mayor said.
“If a total pool of 100,000 people with 54,000 doses available, only 16,000 have been done, something’s wrong,” de Blasio said. “Federal government, state government need to step up and move that piece of the equation because those are the single most vulnerable people in New York City.”
Staff and residents at New York’s nursing homes – which were hard hit by COVID-19 – are to receive vaccinations through a federal partnership with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.