ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Even though New York State only began Phase 1 of its COVID-19 Vaccination Program on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday Phase 2 could begin in late January, if the supply chain holds up.
“The dates tend to change with the federal government,” Cuomo warned. “That’s not a criticism. I know they’re trying to move a lot of big pieces very quickly.”
According to New York State’s Vaccination Program Book, released in October, Phase 2 includes: first responders, workers at schools doing in-person instruction, essential frontline workers who regularly interact with the public, such as pharmacists, grocery store workers, and transit employees, and those living in the general population deemed to be at high-risk due to comorbidities.
“I think the general consensus with the officers in our department is when it comes to our turn, we’ll all be there to get the vaccines,” said City of Tonawanda Police Department Captain Fredric Foels, who falls into Phase 2.
Timelines have not been provided for Phase 3, which includes senior citizens and those under the age of 65 who have high-risk comorbidities, Phase 4, which includes all other essential workers, and Phase 5, which includes everybody else.
Phase 1 of the plan continued on Wednesday. That phase involves front-line health care workers, long-term care facility workers, and most at-risk residents of those facilities. Stacey Forgensi, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at ECMC, became the first employee at that hospital to become vaccinated Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, Cuomo says the state has received a total of 87,750 doses of the vaccine. He said another 80,000 of Pfizer’s doses are expected to be received in the coming days, which would go to nursing home residents and staff.
A second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is needed three weeks after the first dose to complete the inoculation process.
Cuomo also announced a Western New York Regional Vaccination Hub would be headed up by Catholic Health. They are in charge of coordinating with community leaders to form a vaccination network to start once the state has enough doses to begin Phase 2. A plan must be submitted to the state for approval during the first week of January.
“Although there are some directives around how this will work, we need to look at our region across the five counties to determine what those communities of concern are to make sure the vaccination is equitable and we’re aware of those populations,” said Catholic Health President and CEO Mark Sullivan.
The Western New York region includes Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany Counties.
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.