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DJ New York City Must Reserve Second Covid-19 Vaccine Doses, State Says

· 02/04/2021 17:49
By Melanie Grayce West

New York City won't be permitted to use Covid-19 vaccine currently held in reserve for second shots to provide first doses to New Yorkers, the state's health commissioner said Thursday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has in recent weeks urged the state to allow the city to use the reserved second doses to help meet the demand for vaccines. Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Mr. de Blasio said the city is vaccinating about a third of the number of people it could due to supply constraints.

"We could be doing so much more," Mr. de Blasio said. "Isn't it the moral thing to do to maximize the number of first doses?"

After some early stumbles and delays, the city has now built up the capacity to vaccinate 500,000 New Yorkers each week, Mr. de Blasio said. But the capacity hasn't quite yet been met by supply of vaccine, though the Biden administration has said it would significantly increase the number of doses sent to states in the coming weeks, while also expanding the total U.S. vaccine order by 50% to 600 million from 400 million.

To date, more than 859,000 first and second doses of the vaccine have been administered in New York City, according to city data. At its best, the city has been able to vaccinate as many as 220,000 people a week. Mr. de Blasio had set a goal of 1 million shots administered by the end of January. A temporary drop in the number of federal doses shipped in January was partly to blame for the city missing its goal, Mr. de Blasio has said.

The mayor has argued that it is better to provide some protection afforded by one shot of the vaccine to the elderly and first responders now, and have a brief delay on a second dose to others. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month health providers could give second doses of Covid-19 vaccines up to six weeks after the first injection, should they be unable to adhere to the shorter recommended intervals.

"Talk to someone who has not yet had a first dose, talk to a grandmother who is waiting for any protection at all and can't get it," Mr. de Blasio said. "It's just not right to withhold second doses we could be using right now."

New York state health commissioner, Howard Zucker, disagreed.

In a letter to Mr. de Blasio sent Thursday, Dr. Zucker said the CDC doesn't approve of using second doses as first doses, and that currently scheduled appointments for a second dose must be honored.

"As you know the vaccination process and supply has not instilled a high level of public confidence," Dr. Zucker said in his letter. "Even postponing appointments due to the recent snow storm caused concern, I believe it is important that all scheduled appointments be honored."

Write to Melanie Grayce West at melanie.west@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 04, 2021 17:49 ET (22:49 GMT)

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