Coronavirus NY: Mayor Bill de Blasio asks for COVID-19 vaccine flexibility from state, federal government

Coronavirus Update for New York

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
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Jim Dolan has the latest on New York City's COVID vaccination efforts.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- "I take full responsibility," Mayor Bill de Blasio said of New York City's slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Yet, he cautioned that the state should give the city more flexibility in how they distribute the vaccines.

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The mayor's comments came one day after Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the vaccine distribution at NYC Health + Hospitals amid statistics showed they had only given out 31% of the vaccines they had been given. The state average is 46%, while NY Presbyterian had administered 99% of its allotted vaccines.

All staff with patient responsibilities at the city's 11 NYC H+H sites have been vaccinated, Dr. Mitchell Katz announced Tuesday. Now, all staff who want to be vaccinated can do so. Katz said on Tuesday that he received the vaccine himself.

Mayor de Blasio continued to blast the state threats of fines to increase vaccinations.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the head of NYC's Health + Hospitals talk about the city's vaccination efforts.

"What they don't need is to be shamed. What they don't need is more bureaucracy. What they don't need is the threat of fines. If the state of New York says, you get a $1 million fine if you move too quickly and $100,000 fine if you move too slowly, that doesnt get anyone anywhere," the mayor said. "Give them the freedom to vaccinate and they will vaccinate. Thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions."

The mayor called for anyone working in a hospital and also hospital patients over age 75 to be able to receive the vaccine. Right now, people in the state's category of 1a are eligible.

CHECK THE LIST of who is eligible for a vaccine in New York State

Governor Cuomo's aide Rich Azzopardi responded to the mayor's comments on Twitter.

At a pop-up vaccination center set up by the city's health department, Dr. Carter Le, a pediatric dentist, got vaccinated Tuesday in Lower Manhattan.

Le says it is "very exciting" and that the vaccine is "a blessing."

One worker says they're seeing "about 20-30 people an hour" -- all front line health care workers who've made appointments to get vaccinated there.

Mayor de Blasio estimated that 30% of city health care workers are turning down the opportunity to get vaccinated. He said that is one reason why the city needs the flexibility to vaccinate other groups.

"We are going to move with every conceivable speed, capacity, and flexibility, but we need help from the state government. We need help from the federal government," de Blasio said. Then, he showed the letter he sent to Vice President Mike Pence and officials with Operation Warp Speed on Monday.

"It's a real issue and we've got to look it in the eye," de Blasio said. "It's understandable that after all the pain of 2020, a lot of people are worried and in general folks have been through so much. We've got to understand the we've got to win trust for the vaccine, but the best way is to do it of course is by example. The governor saying fines may be the best way to compel hospitals to ramp up their vaccinations. Additionally, he wants to use pharmacies and eventually college campuses for vaccinating the general public."

De Blasio's requests included the following:

- Support increased speed of vaccine manufacturing to increase overall supply by pre-purchasing additional doses.

- Allocate additional vaccine doses to New York City and other commuter jurisdictions who are vaccinating more than their residents.

- Provide greater advance notice of dose allocation quantity and delivery schedule for planning purposes.

- Accelerate the dissemination of vaccine through coordinated pharmacy distribution.

- Incentivize and support providers through technical assistance and financial support.

- FDA approval to pre-fill syringes with vaccine.

For information on how to get vaccinated in NYC, Dr. Chokshi said to visit

Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that NYC's Javits Center, SUNY/CUNY campuses, and other large New York sites will become drive-thru vaccination locations.

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