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NYC Says Vaccines May Be Available to All Soon as Late April

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 3/3/2021 Angelica LaVito
a person sitting in a room: A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site inside a church in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Restaurant workers, taxi drivers and workers at developmentally-disabled facilities could become eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines if local governments choose to include them, Governor Cuomo said. © Bloomberg A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site inside a church in the Bronx borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. Restaurant workers, taxi drivers and workers at developmentally-disabled facilities could become eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines if local governments choose to include them, Governor Cuomo said.

(Bloomberg) -- New York City could be able to offer Covid-19 vaccines to all residents by late April, the city’s health commissioner said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg News.

“I would estimate for New York City sometime in, I hope, late April to May, we will have sufficient supply to be able to offer a vaccine to every New Yorker who wants one,” Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said by telephone.

New York City has given at least one dose to 15.6% of its population, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, matching the overall rate in the U.S. Right now, vaccines in the city are limited to health-care workers, elderly, and workers in high-touch industries like teachers, firefighters, and restaurant employees.

Chokshi’s comments come a day after President Joe Biden pledged the U.S. will have enough doses to immunize every American adult by the end of May. Actually getting all those shots into arms could take a “few weeks to months,” Chokshi said.

New York City has administered more than 2 million doses within the first few months of the vaccination campaign, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. It will need to give many more to immunize its 8.3 million residents.

The health department is focused on preparing more providers to administer vaccines. More than 400 sites, such as health-department clinics and hospitals, are currently giving shots.

“We do have that groundwork laid. We will have to continue ramping up our capacity over the coming months,” including city-run clinics as well as family doctor’s offices, Chokshi said.

Fresh Clearance

The fresh clearance of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine will provide a boost to the country’s vaccine supply. Nearly 4 million shots are being distributed this week, the Biden administration has said. About 71,000 of them are heading to New York City, according to federal data.

The city plans to use the J&J shots to immunize homebound seniors since they are easier to store and transport than the other available two vaccines, Chokshi said.

Supply nonetheless poses the biggest near-term challenge, he said. Still, the city is already thinking ahead to how it will convince all New Yorkers to take a vaccine.

The health department plans to focus on answering people’s questions and addressing specifics about the three available vaccines. The main message, Chokshi said, will be emphasizing the safety of all of them.

(Updates with data on the J&J vaccine in the eighth paragraph.)

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