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New York City Temporarily Closes 15 Vaccine Hubs, Cancels Thousands Of Appointments Due To Shortage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- COVID-19 vaccinations have hit a wall in the state. Tens of thousands of appointments in New York City are cancelled through Sunday, as Mayor Bill de Blasio says he's almost out of first doses.

A Harlem school is one of 15 vaccination hubs that have been temporarily closed down. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state has used 93% of first doses available and won't have any by Friday.

The governor wanted to buy more doses directly from Pfizer, but on Thursday CBS2's Lisa Rozner learned President Joe Biden's administration won't allow it.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Delivers Latest COVID Briefing 

De Blasio said half a million New Yorkers have been vaccinated, but there is only hope the hubs will be administering again next week when the federal government will hopefully send more doses to the city.

"We are seeking clear answers and I want to be fair to the new Biden team. They just got in the door," de Blasio said. "I think it's going to take a few days to get a clear picture of what vaccine is available."

MORE: As U.S. Mourns 400,000 Lives Lost, Mayor De Blasio Wants Approval To Use Vaccine Earmarked For Second Doses For First Shots

More than 22,000 people had appointments canceled and automatically rescheduled for next week, including Rivka Press Schwartz, a high school administrator in the Bronx.

"It creates anxiety and maybe even a little bit of a sense of panic. I don't quite understand scheduling appointments for which you didn't have doses," Press Schwartz said.


The city said appointments for second doses were not cancelled, but added if the shortage is extended weeks it could use some of that supply to administer more first doses.

"With the idea that future supply would then be able to backfill our second doses over time," city Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said.

Mark Levine, the chairman of the City Council Health Committee, said the Biden administration needs to increase supply dramatically and take into account that a quarter of those getting vaccinated don't live in the city. They are health care and essential employees that work in the five boroughs.

Watch Lisa Rozner's report --

"Let me tell you, if we keep vaccinating at only 100,000 doses a week we're not going to get to herd immunity in New York City until probably mid to late 2022," Levine said. "We need 400,000 doses every single week if we are going to get to herd immunity by the middle of this year so we can have something like a normal summer."

Gov. Cuomo wanted to buy more doses from Pfizer directly, but a Biden spokesperson said Pfizer and Moderna will not be allowed to do that. He said, "We need to have a national approach to vaccinations, and must ensure states aren't competing against each other."

The Biden spokesperson added the administration is taking steps to clearly communicate with states on allocation and delivery.

Mayor de Blasio said he is part of those conversations, but, again, doesn't expect an answer for days.


Just hours before the city was expected to run out, some people got the last of the allotment Thursday at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. A spokesperson told CBS2's John Dias the "site will be open on a limited basis."

Many said their appointments had been rescheduled from another time, when earlier appointments were canceled.

"When I asked them, they said something came up," said Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Deanna Bocchetti. "They scheduled me again for February, but then somebody called me and said do you want to come earlier?"

Brooklyn teacher Mike Leschinsky had a similar story. He was supposed to get the shot next month but got a call from the city asking if he wanted to come earlier.

"It seems like a few people that got in early had a chance to come in, and then they maybe were overwhelmed and they were trying to reshuffle things around with the supply they had," he said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Private clinics are still operating during the shortage, but officials said no new appointments will be scheduled at city-run clinics until this is figured out.

Even the NYPD is having to postpone appointments, and the FDNY doesn't have enough vaccine to give shots beyond the weekend.

Meanwhile, demand in Rockland and Westchester is also easily outpacing supply.

Ninety-five-year-old Jean Kelly, of Nyack, got her shot Thursday as Rockland County finally got a batch of 1,400 doses delivered several days after they ran out.

RELATED STORY -- COVID In New York: Local Pharmacists Say They Are Receiving Far Too Few Vaccine Doses To Meet Demand

While so many Americans wait to receive the vaccine, doctors are saying you may want to layer up your masks, especially as the U.K. strain of the coronavirus becomes more common.

"An N-95's your gold standard, your surgical mask kind of goes in the middle," Dr. Jake Deutsch, of Cure Urgent Care, said. "And if you only have a cloth option, maybe layering two together might have a greater degree of impermeability."

Experts like Deutsch say wearing more than one mask creates a sort of obstacle course for infected particles.

A face shield and goggles will protect your eyes but need to be worn in addition to that face covering.

"But if you take it all off and you sit down and have a meal with somebody who has the U.K. variant, all of that effort just went out the window," Deutsch told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

CBS2's John Dias, Lisa Rozner and Jessica Layton contributed to this report.


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