‘Key to recovery’: Vaccine rollout continues as COVID cases remain high

pop-up vaccination site
A healthcare worker administers a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to a woman at a pop-up vaccination site in Manhattan.
REUTERS/Mike Segar

New York City administered 1,071,393 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of the morning of Feb. 10, marking a major milestone in the efforts to vaccinate the population of the Five Boroughs. 

Cumulatively, nearly 275,000 individuals have received both their first and second doses of the vaccine, leaving nearly 800,000 partially-inoculated persons awaiting their second dose. 

As another positive sign, the city has been consistently ramping up the pace with which health officials are able to distribute the vaccine, with weekday numbers showing about 40,000 people receiving an injection each day — although those numbers still significantly decline on weekends.

Still, supply of the vaccine from the federal government to the city and state is still presenting a major bottleneck to distribution, as the city’s stockpile continues to remain below 200,000 doses, with sporadic replenishments coming from the feds — leaving open the possibility that officials may need to slow down the growth trends of distribution. 

President Joe Biden’s administration, however, gave New York leadership a glimmer of hope, promising to boost supply by some 5 percent, which — when paired with other recently announced allocations — marks a 26 percent total increase in vaccine allocation over the past three weeks.

That news follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying health conditions — such as cancer, high blood pressure, and severe obesity — will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning on Feb. 15 with a doctor’s note. 

The rush to inoculate as many people as possible comes as virus case counts remain high across the Five Boroughs. 

In Brooklyn, the testing positivity rate sat just under 8 percent, and 1,141 people have tested positive per day over the seven day span ending on Feb. 7, according to city data.

The southern half of the borough has been hit particularly hard, as the 11235 zip code covering Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Sheepshead Bay saw the most cases of any in the city with 364 during the first week of February. 

Five of the top 10 city zip codes seeing the most cases per day are in Brooklyn — 11235, 11208, 11230, 11229, and 11223. 

Yet, even as cases remain high, Cuomo has loosened up many restrictions meant to enforce social distancing — including allowing a return to indoor dining on Feb. 12, and permitting arenas like Barclays Center to open at 10 percent capacity on Feb. 23. 

“Any large stadium or arena — hockey, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, music shows, performances — any large arena can open on Feb. 23,” Cuomo said at a press briefing, adding also that Crown Heights’ Medgar Evers College will soon serve as a mass vaccination site for some of the borough’s most vulnerable.

For his part, Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a press conference on Feb. 10, pinned his hopes squarely on vaccines to quash the pandemic. 

“Look, vaccination is the key to recovery,” he said. “Vaccination is the key to bringing us back, and it’s also crucial to having a recovery for all of us.”

To make a vaccine appointment in New York City, head to www.vaccinefinder.nyc.gov or call 1-877-VAX-4NYC.