The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be approved by the FDA on Thursday and New York could receive its first dosages as soon as this weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
New York’s vaccine review panel, which sounds like a rubber stamp but was created to help build confidence among the public, will convene and approve the vaccine immediately after.
"The scale of vaccinating everyone in your state is just massive," Gov. Cuomo said during his first virtual press conference.
New York’s first 170,000 doses will go to nursing home residents and staff, along with high-risk health care workers.
Additional allocations of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are expected to be delivered later this month.
Cuomo says that hospitals will be the ones to select which "patient-facing staff at hospitals should be prioritized as "high risk" and receive the COVID-19 vaccine first.
The state has already approved 90 regional distribution centers for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state has also opted into the federal program which will allow CVS and Walgreens employees to vaccinate nursing home residents and staff inside those facilities, similar to how they do for the flu vaccine.
The New York National Guard has been selected by the Department of Defense as one of the 16 pilot programs across the nation to be part of the limited distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to military personnel.
According to Cuomo, every high-risk hospital worker will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks after it arrives in the state.
The governor also announced that the CDC and HHS have agreed that there will be no data or information sharing of anyone taking the COVID-19 vaccine to federal immigration authorities.
This was a major concern among advocacy groups and lawmakers who felt that this information would be shared with the federal government in an attempt to identify undocumented immigrants taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
By either late January or beginning of February, Cuomo says the state will lay out a plan with actual sites where the general population will eventually be able to go get vaccinated.
The governor also once again pleaded with Congress and federal lawmakers to approve a federal stimulus package, warning that the state could have to layoff several thousand government workers, increase taxes, government borrowing, and more if federal aid does not arrive.
However, the governor admitted that federal aid will most likely not be enough to cover the budget deficit, and said there will most likely be tax increases included in the state’s budget next year.
The state’s positive COVID-19 infection rate was at 5.44% on Tuesday. Hospitalizations increased by 158, bringing the total to 4,993. Ninety-five people died from COVID-19 on Tuesday.