NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Coronavirus vaccine doses are running dangerously low in New York City, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio, and hope is growing dimmer that any immediate help is on the way.
During his daily press conference on Thursday, the mayor said that he and several others in New York City government have been pleading their case to get more vaccines to the city – but their calls have not been answered.
“I’ve been on the phone with members of the Biden administration. I know Dr. (Dave) Chokshi, Dr. (Mitchell) Katz, Dr. (Jay) Varma, everyone's been doing the same thing – we are seeking clear answers,” de Blasio said.
He says they will keep trying but understands that President Joe Biden’s team are still “getting the facts they have been asking for, but they were not provided during the transition.”
On Wednesday, the city was forced to reschedule over 22,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments between Jan. 21 and Jan. 24 due to a lack of supply. Those appointments were for the first dose of the vaccine and have been rescheduled for next week, when city officials hope to have another shipment.
“Vaccinating all eligible New Yorkers as quickly as possible will ensure we keep this virus at bay,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Chokshi. “We are disappointed that we have still not been allocated enough doses to get New Yorkers vaccinated quickly, but we will keep working with our state and federal partners to get more doses.”
Mayor de Blasio on Thursday asked New Yorkers to be patient as the new administration works to allocate available doses of the vaccine.
“I think it's gonna take a few days to make to get a clear picture of what vaccine is available and how they can move around as best possible,” the mayor said.
He says he believes President Biden will use the Defense Protection Act to fix supply chain issues and “get us every possible dose he can get us.” Though, he acknowledges that can take up to several weeks.
Meanwhile, with no way of knowing when more vaccine will be coming, Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of epidemiology at Northwell Health, does not advise dipping into the reserve of second doses.
“I'm one of those who believe that it would be a mistake and an experiment to just give first doses,” he says. “I do think it's important for people to get their second dose.”
Dr. Farber says that while single doses have been shown to be somewhat effective in combatting the virus, two doses has proven to be the most effective.
“They are not nearly as effective as the second dose strategy and no one knows how long the immunity would last with one dose and there’s major concern that it would fade quickly,” the doctor said.
Northwell Health does not schedule appointments without vaccines on hand, but Dr. Farber says supply is running low.
A spokeswoman for the healthcare system says all of their Long Island centers had to be shut down on Thursday due to the vaccine shortages.
De Blasio on Wednesday asked the federal government and the state for the green light to immediately use vaccines on hand currently earmarked as second doses instead as the initial dose.