NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio had a positive message on Wednesday about coronavirus vaccinations: the city has administered more than 4 million doses. That good news was further boosted by a major development from Pfizer: its vaccine was found to be 100% effective in preventing children ages 12 to 15 from becoming infected.
They’re both upbeat developments to be certain, but further analysis shows some challenges.
The mayor was eager to showcase his vaccination figures Wednesday.
“The exact number, 4,058,854 doses, have been given,” de Blasio said in his daily news conference. “Think about that though,” he continued, “as many doses given as the total population of L.A., and we’re going to be going farther. Going forward, we’ll start comparing to state populations since we’ve run out of other cities to compare.”
However, that does not mean that 4 million New Yorkers are fully vaccinated. Most people are required to get two vaccine doses, so the number of fully vaccinated New Yorkers is likely to be closer to half of the 4 million mark, as the mayor admitted when pressed by PIX11 News.
“One of the challenges has been the difference between the folks who take the two-dose approach and those who take the one dose with Johnson & Johnson,” de Blasio said. “But we’re going to increasingly capture that information and provide it, so you can track our progress.”
For now, progress made in vaccinations does have limitations. On Wednesday, the city confirmed that at a vaccination site in Co-op City, it had to turn away more than 600 people who had previously-scheduled vaccination appointments. There simply wasn’t nearly enough supply to meet the number of appointments that the city had overbooked.
It rescheduled the appointments that it had not been able to keep, but some of the people sent away had come from other parts of the city.
Meanwhile, the city may benefit significantly from a new development from the manufacturer of the first vaccine approved in the U.S.
Pfizer announced on Wednesday that its vaccine proved 100% effective at preventing infection in clinical trials involving children ages 12 to 15.
The vaccine is already authorized to be administered to people age 16 and older.
The new results took the mayor’s senior medical advisor by surprise.
“To be quite frank,” said Dr. Jay Varma, at the mayor’s daily briefing, “I literally almost dropped my phone when I saw how impressive the data was that Pfizer released.”
Tazin Azad is the mother of three public school students, and is a leader of the education advocacy group Parents for Responsive Equitable Safe Schools, or PRESS. She said that she, too, was impressed with the Pfizer results, and is eager to see them applied practically.
“I’m waiting for the vaccination to be available for my kids to return to school,” she said, “but not before then.”
Azad said that she was pleased to hear that the city is calling the vaccine a possible game changer for in-person school attendance.
“It may have a really important impact on what happens with school protocols in the fall,” Dr. Varma said. He also cautioned, however, that an FDA approved vaccine for children may still be months away.
If it is approved, Azad, the mother and activist, had another message for authorities.
“We want it to be equitable,” she said, “so the kids that need it the most have access to it.”