By Emily Drooby
Three weeks ago, Sandra Lindsay was America’s first vaccinated nurse. Now, she’s been given her second of two Pfizer shots, meaning she’s one of the first in the country to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
She says she’s been receiving support from people all over the country.
Sandra told reporters that people have been writing to her, adding these are “…complete strangers who wanted to thank me for my bravery and encourage me, people were praying for me.”
Also on Jan. 4 non-hospital health care workers could begin to get their vaccines.
These hopeful milestones have been overshadowed by calls from many gravely concerned over what’s being called a slow rollout of the vaccine — only about 200,000 New Yorkers have gotten the first of two shots.
“It’s very piecemeal, there’s no organized information coming down from the state, or from the health department,” said pediatrician Dr. Eric Levene. “It’s sort of like information passed in a back alley,” he added.
Dr. Levene, the marketing committee chair and a partner with Allied Physicians Group, said that as non-hospital health care workers, they have had to get vaccine information from Facebook and Whatsapp groups, versus from the government.
He also suggested that the state should be using more medical professionals to help with distribution, not just hospitals, which are also now dealing with an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“Send me the vaccine, we are pediatricians, we are good at mass vaccinations, we vaccinate kids every day,” he said.
New York City has yet to open any large-scale vaccination sites. But on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the opening of three vaccine hubs. He said they will open by Sunday January 10, and will be in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
“This has got to be a seven day a week, 24/7 reality going forward,” added the mayor.
Also on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo placed the blame for the slow roll out on a federal program that was supposed to deal with nursing homes and on hospitals.
“We want those vaccines in people’s arms,” he said.
Gov. Cuomo also chastised hospitals with low distribution rates.
Northwell Health was praised by the governor for their high rates. Their President and CEO, Michael Dowling, said while they’re placing a strong emphasis on distribution, they’re also still having to deal with the normal hurdles of running a hospital and again, the rising COVID-19 cases.
“This is complex,” he explained, “but the goal is to move as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible and as equitability as possible.”
Right now, it’s still not clear when vaccines will be available to the average New Yorker. Currently it’s still being distributed to front-line health care workers, including EMTs, coroners and hospice workers.
The mayor said he wants to add school staff and first responders of all types to that list in the next few weeks.