ALBANY — Immunization rates among New York’s health care workers is on the rise, but the state’s supply of COVID vaccines remains woefully low, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.
The number of doctors and nurses who have received an initial dose of coronavirus vaccine has surpassed 72%, rising from 63% just a week ago, the governor announced during a press briefing in Buffalo.
However, he noted that vaccination rates vary from region to region and even from hospital to hospital.
“The top priority is to vaccinate the health care staff so they are healthy and can provide medical treatment,” Cuomo said during a visit to Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “We remain focused on that priority.”
The governor called on local officials to hold underperforming hospitals accountable and work harder to ensure that as many of the state’s 2.1 million health care workers are vaccinated as possible.
“I’ve said to hospitals all throughout the state, you have to vaccinate your employees first,” Cuomo said. “I can’t call every hospital and work out local issues, but county governments, mayors, you know what hospitals are at what percent. Congratulate the high performers and ask the people who are at a lower level what help they need to get their percentage up, because the variance is too great.”
In all, New York has administered 1.5 million doses of COVID vaccine as the state has gone through 91% of the state’s federally allocated supply during the first six weeks of distribution.
A total of seven million of the state’s 19 million people are currently eligible to be vaccinated including health care workers, first responders and all residents over 65.
The slow rollout led mayor de Blasio to delay the opening of mass vaccination sites including ones at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium.
On Friday, Cuomo warned that the state was slated to run out of shots by the end of the day. He walked back his comments a bit on Monday, while continuing to gripe about the current weekly allotment of 250,000 doses.
“We don’t run out of vaccines. We get a weekly allocation from the federal government and it goes week to week,” he said. “The issue with the vaccination plan is the supply, is how much vaccine we are getting.”
The state has thousands of sites including pharmacies, hospitals and larger mass vaccination sites ready to go if and when the feds up the supply, the governor added.
Cuomo said he and governors from across the country will be meeting Tuesday with President Biden’s COVID czar, Jeff Zients, to talk about the limited supply being sent to states.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the federal government plans to prioritize New York for vaccine deliveries in light of Cuomo saying that the state has the infrastructure to inoculate 100,000 people per day, but that it’s struggling to do so because of supply shortages.
“This is a multi-faceted challenge. It’s not just about having supply, which is pivotal, of course. It’s about having more people who can physically put the shots into the arms of Americans and it’s about ensuring we have places that that can be done.,” she said. “I don’t have anything for you on prioritization. That’s something our team is working through and we want to ensure that we are working closely with governors across the country to effectively do that.”