A FDNY EMS Fire Brigade Bureau employee receives a COVID-19 Moderna vaccine amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, New York, United States. December 23, 2020.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
New York officials plan to vaccinate 1 million residents against Covid-19 in January. The federal government and drug manufacturers need to accelerate the production and distribution of the vaccine.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday the city will use schools, pop-up clinics and "whatever it takes" to reach 1 million people in a month.
"We know New York City can vaccinate 1 million people in January and really get this thing going," de Blasio told CNN. "Every time we vaccinate someone, we've come one step closer to the coronavirus in terms of its terrible impact on society."
IIt's an ambitious goal considering the city only received 390,425 doses of vaccine and, according to the city, was only able to administer about 78,000 shots.
"This thing isn't moving the way it needs to be in the US," said the mayor. "New York City will show that we can speed this up and vaccinate people at record speed. And we want the whole country to be a part of it because we have to move faster to fight the coronavirus if we want to recover."
The U.S. government has fallen far short of its original target of delivering at least 20 million Covid vaccine shots before the end of the year – something federal officials have admitted is disappointing. The US has so far distributed 12.4 million doses of vaccine and vaccinated only 2.8 million people with the first Pfizer or Moderna two-shot schedule, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US officials say the data is 72 to 96 hours behind due to state and local delays. Even so, it's still a fraction of the Trump administration's original goal.
"We agree that this number is lower than we had hoped," Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to the government's Operation Warp Speed vaccination program, told reporters on Wednesday. "We know it should be better and we're working hard to do better."
De Blasio's explanation comes from the fact that health officials in Colorado and California have discovered a new strain of the coronavirus in a few cases in those states. The new variant, which de Blasio said has not yet been found in New York, was first identified in the UK and appears to be far more contagious.
It also comes as the city prepares for its annual New Years Eve celebrations, albeit without the usual crowds. Only a few hundred people, instead of the usual thousands, will be in Times Square with masks and by invitation only for the midnight ball drop for the kick of 2021. De Blasio said the one year that unites all Americans in this divided country is "We want to get rid of the hell of 2020."