New York will begin vaccinating people with underlying health conditions as soon as late January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday, as hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are heading to the state in the coming weeks. 

The vaccination program is getting underway as the pandemic continues to surge in New York. The positive rate in the last day reached 6.21% out of 160,947 COVID-19 tests and 95 people died of the virus. There are now 6,097 people in the hospital due to COVID-19. 

But the vaccines are seen as the light at the end of the tunnel. New York is receiving nearly 170,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and expects to receive 300,000 doses of a Moderna-manufactured vaccine in the coming weeks after its expected approval. 

Frontline health care workers and nursing home residents are scheduled to be vaccinated first. In the second phase, New Yorkers with underlying health conditions will be given the vaccine, which will be distributed by "regional hubs" led by health care networks on the local level. 

"It's a medical procedure," Cuomo said. "It will be handled by medical officials. There will be no political favoritism."

New York's vaccination program will be conducted in multiple phases, with healthy adults and children going last. A vaccine program could run until September to reach a normal level of immunity in the country.

The first non-clinical trial vaccines were administered this week in New York and the country.

Plans for the second phase of the distribution program are due Jan. 1, Cuomo said. 

"The regionalization makes sense and they'll have a plan that's tailored to their area," Cuomo said. 

The goal, he added, is to make New York the first COVID-free state in the country.