Speeding the Vaccine. Can New York Speed Up the Vaccine Rollout?


Pool photo by Shannon Stapleton


Weeks ago, when a nurse in Queens became the first person in the United States to get the coronavirus vaccine, officials said the end of the pandemic was in sight.


But the only way to close this chapter — vaccinating millions of New Yorkers — is going slowly, even as infections and deaths surge statewide. And on Monday, the state confirmed its first case of a more contagious variant of the virus.


In an effort to speed up the rollout, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threatened penalties for hospitals that don’t pick up the pace, and allowed more groups of health care workers to get the vaccine.


[The confirmation of the coronavirus variant in New York could complicate the state’s inoculation plans.]


Here’s what you need to know:


Mr. Cuomo is compelling hospitals to speed up vaccinations.


The governor was under mounting pressure to overhaul the state’s vaccine distribution. He warned that hospitals may face fines up to $100,000 and may not receive future shipments if they do not use their allocated doses faster.


Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, questioned the governor’s pledge to cut off hospitals.


“Threatening to revoke the privilege of vaccination from the city’s public hospital system is punitive and unnecessary,”

Ms. Cohen said.


Mr. de Blasio is aiming to offer the vaccine 24/7 when possible.


In New York City, which has a population of more than eight million, only about 110,000 have gotten the first dose of the vaccine. Still, the mayor pledged to reach one million doses by February.


On Monday, Mr. de Blasio promised to open three new “vaccination hubs” in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens and to offer shots 24/7 when possible. The city also hopes to double the number of locations offering the vaccine to 250 sites by the end of January.


Mr. de Blasio said “there’s lots more we can do” if the Cuomo administration allowed the city to inoculate a wider range of essential workers and people 75 and older.


The governor and mayor have feuded for years, but they have recently shown a united front.

Despite their rocky relationship, especially during the pandemic, Mr. de Blasio steered clear of directly criticizing Mr. Cuomo, instead calling on “the state” to change its approach.


Mr. Cuomo, though, shifted blame for the slow rollout away from his administration and urged local leaders who oversee public hospital systems to take “personal responsibility” for their performance.


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