Long Island set to receive initial 26,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Long Island could receive its first 26,500 doses of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as early as this weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a media briefing Wednesday.

Those doses will be given to nursing home residents and nursing staff under a federal program. Those doses will be administered by employees of CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies under a federal contract, the governor said. The second round of doses to those same 26,500 Long Island residents will arrive three weeks later.

“It could arrive as soon as this weekend,” the governor said. “That assumes the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] does act right away, the FDA does approve it and the military turns around and ships it immediately.”

“The scale of vaccinating every person in your state is just massive.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo

The governor said the weekend timeline is based on a presumption the Pfizer vaccine will be approved Thursday and a state panel designed to reinforce the approval — in an effort to improve public opinion of the vaccine — convenes immediately afterward.

Mr. Cuomo said New York is receiving a total of 170,000 doses of the vaccine, the first to be distributed, based on a formula established by the federal government. The state is then distributing it to residents in each of 10 regions. Both formulas factor in population density. New York City will receive 72,000 doses.

The state has also identified 90 distribution centers with the capacity to store the vaccine at an appropriate temperature.

“The scale of vaccinating every person in your state is just massive,” Mr. Cuomo said. “This is going to test capacity across the board.”

The governor said he believes the the initial round of vaccinations is more than enough to cover nursing homes and next on the priority list will be health care workers, beginning with patient-facing health care workers deemed to be at high risk. After the state’s 700,000 health care workers are vaccinated, doses will next be administered to “essential workers” and the general public.

Each round of vaccinations will take three weeks to complete since a second dose is required, the governor said.

The first patients to be vaccinated received their initial doses in England Monday. Canadian authorities approved the vaccine on Wednesday.

The vaccine is arriving as the spread of the coronavirus continues to worsen on Long Island and nationally. The 7-day average positivity reported in Suffolk County Tuesday was above 6% as more than 1,100 new cases were again revealed.

Hospitalizations in Suffolk are once again above 350 and the number of available hospital beds is down to about 750, according to the county department of health.

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