New York plans to set up “mass vaccination sites” once vaccines against COVID-19 become available through the federal government and reviewed by an independent state committee, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday.
In developing a strategy to spread vaccines across the country, the governor said efforts would be the largest undertaken by New York since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March.
“How do you get 40 million vaccines in New York State?” That’s the trick, “Cuomo told a news briefing.
He said so many doses are needed because there are 20 million people in the state, and “most of the vaccines they are talking about require two doses”
The governor said hospitals, emergency centers, primary care facilities, pharmacies and state health department offices are among the sites being considered for vaccine distribution.
He said the first round of doses would go to both people most at risk for COVID-19 and first-line health workers in hotspots.
The next round will be extended to these two groups across the country and then all to areas with the highest infection rates, followed by the rest of the population.
However, he noted what he identified as significant obstacles: receiving the vaccines from the federal government, approving them by its independent medical advisory committee, ensuring that the vaccines are trusted enough to receive them, even less at both doses – and even finding the right places to store the medicine.
“Vaccine storage will have to be minus 80 degrees,” Cuomo said. “It’s a question of how many refrigeration units will be available for this.”