ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – State officials are working to figure out how they’ll distribute thousands of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine later this month. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said pending FDA approval, 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine are expected to be in New York State on December 15th. Another shipment from Moderna is expected soon afterward. He has also indicated New York State’s 210,000 nursing home residents and staff members are at the top of the priority list.
“Between the 170,000 and the Moderna, we would cover the entire nursing home and worker population,” said Cuomo, who also predicted some people would be skeptical about the vaccine.
Stephen Hanse, the president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities association called the announcement “great news”.
“It would be great if we could get it on the 15th,” Hanse said. “But if the state receives it on the 15th, it may not occur on the 15th. That’s why we’re looking at it from the perspective of at least if we can get that first inoculation within the month of December to start moving forward.”
The vaccine requires a second dose weeks later as well, so Hanse is hoping this process can be completed within the first quarter of 2021.
It can’t come soon enough. The virus continues to be an issue in nursing homes. According to a News 4 analysis of a report sent from Erie County Health Commissioner to the county legislature, there was one positive coronavirus test for every 3.3 beds at Eden Rehabilitation and Nursing Center last week, one positive for every 5.3 beds at Greenfield Health and Rehab Center in Lancaster, one positive for every 6.9 beds at Elderwood’s Cheektowaga facility, one positive for every 7.9 beds at Autumn View Health Care Facility in Hamburg, and one positive for every 9.6 beds at Canterbury Woods in Amherst.
“The studies by Harvard, Yale, and the University of Chicago back up what is happening in Erie County. When the prevalence of COVID increases in a community, inevitably the prevalence of COVID will increase in a long term care facility or any health care setting,” Hanse said.
NYSHCF, Hanse’s group, is working with the state to educate nursing homes and facilitate vaccine dissemination, he said.
“There are a lot of logistics that the state is working on right now, that the federal government is working on,” Hanse added.
“Leading up to this point in time, the federal government put in place a system with CVS and Walgreens Pharmacy to have them come in when the vaccinations are available,” he said. “To come into nursing homes as a turn-key solution and provide the inoculations.”
Hanse also said providers could enroll with New York State to get help distributing vaccinations. While the framework of these plans may be in place, the specifics are being hashed out.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.