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New York City set to run out of COVID-19 vaccine within days, Mayor de Blasio says

Dr. Ashish Jha on new COVID-19 strains
Dr. Ashish Jha on new COVID-19 strains 03:03

New York City is on track to run out of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the next few days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. According to de Blasio, the city's vaccination rate has outpaced the supply provided by the federal government.

"If we don't get more vaccine quickly, a new supply of vaccine, we will have to cancel appointments and no longer give shots," the mayor warned at a press conference. He urged the federal government to send more vaccine as soon as possible. "At the rate we are going we will begin to run out on Thursday… we will have literally nothing left to give as of Friday," he said. 

New York City vaccinated over 220,000 people last week alone, meaning a New Yorker was vaccinated every 3 seconds, according to the mayor. De Blasio said the city could vaccinate 300,000 more people this week — if it had the supply. "We have the ability to vaccinate a huge number of people, we need the vaccine to go with it," he said.

According to the mayor, 53,000 doses arrived Tuesday. He called the shipment insufficient, leaving the city with only 116,000 doses for the week ahead. "We will not get, on the current schedule, re-supplied until next Tuesday … which means that at many of sites we would not be able to vaccinate again until next Wednesday," de Blasio explained. 

City council member Mark D. Levine, chair of the health committee, said the city has kept a stock of second doses in reserve, so the shortage will not affect people scheduled to receive their second dose between Friday and next Wednesday. Levine, however, also stressed that first dose appointments will have to be cancelled unless the federal government steps up soon. "Outrageous that they've put us on this position," he tweeted

The Trump administration pledged to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID Data Tracker, as of Monday night —18 days into the new year — just over 12 million people had received their first dose of vaccine. A total of 455,737 of those doses have been administered in New York City, according to the mayor.

President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million people during his first 100 days in office. De Blasio commended Biden's plan, calling it a "clear departure from what we have known" under the Trump administration. 

"That's the kind of commitment that's going to help us here in New York City to get the vaccine we need; because the central message today is we are vaccinating people faster and faster, it's getting better and better, and just now we are running out of vaccine and we need it desperately," he said. "A new president I think is going to make all the difference."

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week announced major changes to the federal government's vaccine distribution plan intended to address a disparity in distribution compared to actual vaccinations. 

Azar directed states to begin vaccinating anyone 65 or older, as well as people under 65 with other medical risk factors, and he announced that the government would release a large supply of doses it had been holding to ensure that vaccinated Americans got their second dose. He also directed states to open more vaccination locations, including at "pharmacies, community health centers, and mass vaccination sites as desired or needed," and announced that allocation of vaccine will no longer be determined by state population, but instead "based on the pace of administration as reported by states, and by the size of the 65 and older population in each state."

The health secretary handed in his resignation letter on Friday but said he would stay in his position until Mr. Biden is sworn in as president on Wednesday. 

In his resignation letter, obtained by CBS News, Azar praised the federal response to the pandemic. "Operation Warp Speed achieved in nine months what many doubted would be possible in a year and a half or more," he wrote. "As of this date, we have two safe and effective vaccines being administered to millions of Americans, with more vaccines likely to be authorized shortly."

"While we mourn every lost life, our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of American lives," Azar wrote.

Shortage of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 01:42

More than 400,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19, and the U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. 

Azar also used his resignation letter, addressed to President Trump, as an opportunity to admonish the president's election rhetoric, and urged him to condemn any threats of violence leading up to the inauguration.

"Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration," Azar wrote. "The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United States of America first brought to the world. I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence, to demand that no one attempt to disrupt the inaugural activities in Washington or elsewhere, and to continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power on January 20, 2021."

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