New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out the state’s plans for the second phase of administering COVID-19 vaccines to essential workers and the general public most at-risk of catching the virus.
This week, Phase I of the state’s vaccination plan began, as the first frontline healthcare worker in Queens was given New York’s first dose, with other allocations shipped to hospitals across the state.
Phase I of the plan, as dictated by the state, is earmarked for healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and employees.
“What’s happening now is that as vaccinations go up, COVID will go down, but it’s a footrace over the next six- to nine-month period,” Cuomo said. “We have to get the vaccination program up and running as soon as we can to bring the COVID rate down, it’s just a question of logistics, and supply, and making it happen … but making it happen is hard.”
During Phase II, Cuomo said that the state would be setting up regional vaccination hubs that will be led by local hospital systems “because this is a medical operation, not a political operation.”
Cuomo said that the regional hubs would determine who was most susceptible to the virus to establish the order of who receives the vaccine during the second phase.
“If you remember back with COVID testing, there was a lot of back and forth about who got it first, and there was favoritism,” Cuomo noted. “So medical professionals are going to administer Phase II by the state guidelines, creating a regional plan for Phase II.”
Once the regional hubs come up with a plan tailored to their area in the state, health officials will send it to the state for approval, to be ready in January.
Phase II is expected to begin in late January, pending timely deliveries of vaccines from the federal government.
“We’re going to work with community-based organizations for outreach to communities that are hard to reach, and we’re going to come up with a plan that meets the needs of that region,” Cuomo said. “The state will provide logistical support to get it done quickly, and we want to plans in place and ready for as soon as we get our Phase II allocation of vaccines.”
During his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, Nov. 16, Cuomo also said that as the vaccine is distributed more widely over the coming weeks, no medical professional will be charging for it and that insurers have been instructed to foot any bill.
“In New York State, no person will have to pay a penny for a vaccination. No person will pay a penny for a vaccination,” he said. “We want people to get vaccinated, and it shouldn’t be about wealth, so nobody will have to pay a penny.”
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