NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Four of five New York City borough presidents called for greater clarity and urgency on the vaccination process currently managed by the New York State, saying the pace to date is "insufficient," New York Daily News reported on Thursday.
Amid confusion over who's eligible to get a vaccine, a color-coded system has been proposed to let New Yorkers know when they'll be eligible to get a vaccine, said the news portal.
A "red" group consisting of frontline workers and others "with the highest level of need" would continue to get vaccinated first. They'd be followed by a "yellow" group consisting of people in ZIP codes "most impacted by the virus" and people with health conditions that make them especially vulnerable, among others. Everyone else would go in a "green" group.
The borough presidents also want a map where New Yorkers can find vaccination sites near them, along with a hotline to set up appointments. The city is currently offering vaccination appointments to eligible groups online, and a map and hotline are in the works, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokesman Bill Neidhardt.
"We must not waste the precious resource of vaccines, but we need a plan that provides clarity and transparency to help us get through this crisis," Brooklyn Borough President (BP) Eric Adams, Manhattan BP Gale Brewer, Staten Island BP James Oddo and Queens BP Donovan Richards wrote to the city and state health commissioners.
"As to the proposal on groups, we agree with these city leaders that the current set-up from the state is not moving fast enough," Neidhardt stated. "The Borough Presidents and Mayor agree: New York City should have the freedom to vaccinate more people right now."
Meanwhile on Wednesday, as the number of eligible New Yorkers continued to expand, de Blasio announced that the city will open 12 additional COVID-19 vaccine hubs across the five boroughs. The first two 24/7 mass vaccination sites will open this Sunday at Bathgate in the Bronx and Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn.
"From our 24/7 mass vaccination sites, to the Vaccine Command Center, we are building the infrastructure we need to vaccinate the highest number of high-risk New Yorkers," he said.
"We're off to a good start, but with the freedom to vaccinate more New Yorkers and the supplies to get there, we could go even further," added the mayor.
New York State on Thursday clarified that healthcare workers on the front lines should be the priority group, classified as "1A" in its distribution plan to receive COVID-19 vaccination, according to an official statement.
New York City has 917,000 eligible healthcare workers in 1A and has only administered 144,000 vaccines. Many more healthcare workers are anxiously awaiting the vaccine. The city has received 304,000 dosages beginning in December through last week and administered less than 50 percent, according to the statement.
Once those healthcare workers who want to accept a vaccine are afforded the opportunity, vaccinations go to the "1B" category which includes essential workers including police, firefighters and 75-plus year old New Yorkers who have the highest death rate from COVID-19, according to the statement.
The 1B category includes approximately 3 million people statewide and the state will utilize a variety of non-governmental agencies to administer those vaccines including pharmacies, private doctor networks, and community groups serving underserved communities, it said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the coronavirus deaths added up to 25,416 and confirmed cases to 460,520 in NYC, according to The City, a project that tracks the spread of confirmed COVID-19 infections and fatalities in New York City, based on information provided by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the governor's office, The COVID Tracking Project and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
As of Thursday evening, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University reported 39,105 coronavirus deaths in New York State, the worst in the country.