New York begins to prepare for vaccination phase of COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a Vaccine Administration Program (VAP) Sunday, as the state prepares for the vaccination phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many companies are working on a vaccine for COVID-19 and some of the companies are expected to report data from their Phase III trials either later this month or in November. Some politicians are optimistic that a vaccine will be approved before, or shortly after, the new year, and now New York State is beginning to prepare for when that day comes. 

Governor Cuomo announced the Vaccine Administration Program during a press conference Sunday. The VAP is designed to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine, when available, is safely administered to all New Yorkers. 

The VAP includes a Clinical Advisory Task Force that will study any approved vaccine and make sure it is safe and effective for all New Yorkers.

There will also be a prioritization level that will decide who gets the vaccine first. Governor Cuomo said “high risk” individuals that live in an area with a high COVID-19 positive rate will be New York’s first priority in getting people vaccinated. Then, the vaccine will be administered to all other “high risk” individuals no matter where they live. After all of the “high risk” individuals are vaccinated, essential workers would then get the opportunity to get a vaccine based on where they live. Finally, if a vaccine is approved, it will be made available to the entire general public of New York State. 

Governor Cuomo still has many questions for the federal government on their vaccination plan, and hopes they are more prepared than when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S.

The governor said the federal government would most likely decide how many doses of an approved vaccine each state would get, but Cuomo said it may be up to the states on how those doses are administered. 

Governor Cuomo said a lot of vaccines that are being tested require two doses, which would mean New York would need to administer about 40 million doses of the vaccine to get every New Yorker vaccinated. To put that into perspective, New York leads the way in COVID-19 testing, but they still have only administered about 12.9 million tests since the pandemic began. 

Most vaccines that have the potential of being approved will also have to be stored at 80 degrees celsius, according to Governor Cuomo. The governor was concerned about the state having enough refrigeration storage to house all of the vaccine doses if a vaccine is approved. 

There are many questions still unanswered about the vaccination process, but Governor Cuomo hopes to have a lot of his questions answered soon, as the National Governors Association plans to send a list of 36 questions about the vaccination process to the White House on Sunday. 

“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”

As for right now, Governor Cuomo says New Yorkers have to stay diligent about wearing a mask, socially distancing and following the guidelines because the fight against COVID-19 is not over.

To watch Sunday’s press conference in its entirety, click on the video below:

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