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City Council Meets With Pfizer Reps, Hospital Officials And Patient Advocates To Discuss COVID Vaccine Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines will go out in less than two weeks. Here in the city, a distribution plan is well in the works.

The vaccine developed by Pfizer is likely to be distributed starting Dec. 15, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions, CBS2's Kevin Rincon reported Friday.

"Such as when there will be authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, how long protection lasts, and how often people will need to get vaccinated," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi said.

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Chokshi spoke at a City Council Health Committee hearing focused on vaccine distribution. Co-Chair Mark Levine outlined who will get the shots first.

"There is broad agreement that we will start with health care workers, then those who live and work in congregate settings, and then essential workers more broadly. But how we define each category has huge implications," Levine said.


Levine said health care workers, for example, should include translators and cleaning staff. Faith Walters, a research specialist with Pfizer, said the company is still working to figure some things out.

"Duration of immunity is unknown at this time with our vaccine," Walters said. "Similar to when you we all take the flu vaccine, you may see a different response that you have verses a response I have."

The city, meanwhile, conducted an opinion poll to see how many people are willing to take the vaccine. It showed 53% said yes, while 20% said no. The rest were undecided.

Assistant Health Commissioner Dr. Jane Zucker said the survey shed some light on another issue.

"We do see the potential for inequities where, for example, white New Yorkers responded that they would be more likely to get the vaccine than Black New Yorkers," Zucker said.

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The city does plan to launch an education campaign as part of its distribution plan, and it'll take a while before everyone has access to the vaccine.

"Doses will be made available to all New Yorkers, though this will likely not be until mid-2021, depending on supply and availability," Chokshi said.

For now, the city is also working on creating special distribution centers, given Pfizer will require its drug to be stored at minus-70 degrees celsius.


The city said it will receive more than 465,000 doses this month. More than 250,000 will come from Pfizer on Dec. 15. More than 211,000 will come from Moderna on Dec. 22.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he doesn't expect the city to have any "leftover" doses once the vaccines are administered.

"I don't think we're going to have a leftover problem. I think we can say that, I think there's going to be, honestly, a tremendous need, a tremendous interest," said the mayor.

The Food and Drug Administration will likely consider emergency use approval of Pfizer's vaccine next week.

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