Mayor Bill de Blasio is asking the Trump administration for greater support for vaccine distribution, including extra doses to cover commuters to the city from other states.
The city is asking for the federal government’s help to speed up distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to more New Yorkers—an effort that’s off to a slow start since the first dose was administered last month.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence sent Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a number of demands he says will help the city speed up the vaccine process during “a critical moment,” as New York and much of the nation grapples to contain a second wave of infections. So far, the city has administered just 110,241 of the 443,000 doses it has received, drawing criticism for not moving quickly enough.
“What we need the federal government to do is to clear the way, make things simpler, make them clearer, solve some of the problems that have bogged down this effort,” de Blasio said during a press briefing Tuesday.
His letter asks the federal government to speed up its vaccine manufacturing efforts, and to supply New York City with extra doses to account for those who might live in other jurisdictions but who commute and spend time here.
“Vaccine doses are currently allocated pro-rata based on resident population, but New York City is appropriately vaccinating all eligible populations who work in the city at our health facilities and elsewhere, including residents of New Jersey and Connecticut who work in the city,” the letter reads.
It also asks the feds provide advanced notice of how many doses it plans to deliver to New York City, and when, so officials can better plan its distribution efforts.
“Right now in New York City, we don’t know when were getting future shipments, we can’t plan. We need to get a million doses done in the month of January—we don’t know where those doses are coming from yet,” de Blasio said. “We need to federal government to give us the most possible clarity about the schedule so we can plan accordingly.”
The mayor also pushed back Tuesday against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fine hospitals that fail to quickly distribute their allocation of vaccines. The governor said Monday that facilities must administer their current vaccine inventory by the end of the week or face a fine of up to $100,000, and from now on must use all of their vaccine doses within seven days of receiving them or could be disqualified from receiving future doses. The city’s public Health + Hospitals system had distributed just 31 percent of its allocated doses as of Monday, according to Cuomo.
City officials said Health + Hospitals has vaccinated all of its clinical workers who are willing to get the vaccine, but that “there are a number of folks even in the health care world who do not yet choose to be vaccinated,” according to the mayor. He repeated his call for the state to quickly expand the categories of New Yorkers who are eligible to get the vaccine, including teachers and those over 75.
“We need to listen to our health care leaders and our health care workers who are saying, give us the flexibility to vaccinate more and more people,” de Blasio said. “What they dont need is to be shamed, what they do need is more bureaucracy, what they don’t need is threat of fines.”
You can read mayor’s letter to Pence, in full, below.