NYC Health Commissioner Carefully Plans for Safe and Equitable Distribution of COVID Vaccine: Coming in 12 Days

NYC Health Commissioner Carefully Plans for Safe and Equitable Distribution of COVID Vaccine: Coming in 12 Days

By Yehudit Garmaise

   “The Calvary is coming to end this pandemic,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning before announcing that the COVID infection rate today has risen to 5.19% in in the city: the first time the positivity rate rose above 5% since May. “Starting this month, in December, in just 12 days, we expect the first dosages to arrive.”

   But how is the Health Department and the hospital system going to distribute the vaccine to 

8.4 million residents of New York City: systematically, safely, and effectively?

  First, the mayor said, he is going to focus on those New Yorkers who are most at risk, which are residents and staffs in nursing homes, frontline healthcare workers, the elderly, and people who live in public housing.

   New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, who is leading the effort in the city’s plans to vaccinate everyone in the city who would like to be vaccinated ,said that “the process of turning a vaccine into a vaccination process is a formidable one.”

  For example, the first among the challenges of receiving, storing, and distributing the Pfizer vaccine is that it requires ultracold storage and special freezers, although the Modera vaccine can be stored in regular freezers, explained Dr. Chokshi, who said the NYC Health Department is busy preparing appropriate storage capacities for both vaccines, so that the city will have the capacity to store at least 1.5 million doses of the vaccine.

  “Already, the Health Department has the ability to receive, store, and ship up to 320,000 dosages of ultra-cold, that is at -80’ C, as well millions of frozen vaccines,” explained Dr. Chokshi, who added that more than 50 city hospitals also have access to ultra-cold storage, or they will have special ultra-cold freezers delivered very soon.”

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