NYC’s supply of first-dose COVID-19 vaccines drops to 7,700

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New York City’s on-hand supply of first-dose coronavirus vaccine shots has dropped to about 7,700, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday — as he again beseeched officials to loosen restrictions on how many second-dose jabs must sit on ice in reserve.

Though new supplies from the federal government are set to trickle in across Tuesday and Wednesday, the Big Apple entered Tuesday with only an estimated 7,700 first-dose shots on hand, down from about 19,000 the day before, de Blasio said during his daily press briefing.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require two doses administered a few weeks apart to gain the fullest extent of their protection.

Federal regulations stipulate that state and local governments must keep enough of their allotted shots on hand to cover second doses for everyone who has already received a first, a rule de Blasio again took issue with on Tuesday.

“We’ve got to make of this situation, and we need the help of all of our partners,” he said, noting that as of Tuesday morning about 202,000 second-dose shots were on hand. “Here’s an opportunity to do something here and now: Just put those second doses into play.

“I really believe that when we move the second doses up and use them for first doses whenever possible, it just allows us to do the most essential thing, which is protect people.”

People scheduled to get COVID-19 vaccinations talk to New York City health care workers outside of a closed vaccine hub in the Brooklyn.
People scheduled to get COVID-19 vaccinations talk to New York City health care workers outside of a closed vaccine hub in the Brooklyn.
AP/Kathy Willens

The severe vaccine shortage — which has caused the postponement of appointments and shuttering of large-scale inoculation sites — is the result of production-end delays and a federal allotment out of sync with New York’s demand.

Though both doses are needed to achieve the maximum protection possible from the coronavirus, just one can afford some resistance to the bug, de Blasio argued.

“Fifty percent protection for a senior citizen is so much better than no protection at all,” he said. “It’s a matter of life and death. The fear that senior citizens have been living in the last year is overwhelming. Even some protection matters so much to them.”

The mayor vowed, however, that giving greater leeway for how the shots can be administered would only lend flexibility as the shortage continues, and not prevent anyone entitled to their second-dose shot from getting it.

Dr. Yomaris Pena extracts the last bit of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine out of a vial in East Harlem, New York.
Dr. Yomaris Pena extracts the last bit of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine out of a vial in East Harlem, New York.
AP/Mary Altaffer

“We’re absolutely committed to everyone getting their second dose, period,” he said. “Anyone who gets a first dose will get a second dose.

“The question is timing, in the context of the scarcity we’re experiencing.”

He acknowledged, however, that the move might mean asking some people to delay their second dose by a few weeks.

“The CDC said, if that second dose is even up to six weeks after its perfect date, it’s still entirely effective,” de Blasio said. “You want to get it to people the first available moment, but if there is a small amount of lag, it’s still entirely effective.”



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