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Cuomo: Pfizer vaccine could be distributed Sunday or Monday in New York State

There are reports Pfizer's vaccine will be approved Friday. If that happens, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the vaccine could be dispersed in the state within hours.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an update Friday on the distribution of the Covid vaccine across New York state.

Pfizer’s vaccine still needs to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There are reports that could happen Friday evening. 

Presuming the FDA approves Pfizer’s vaccine, Cuomo says doses of the vaccine could be distributed in New York State on Sunday or Monday.

Some 170,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccines are expected to come to New York. Of that, 14,500 doses will come to Western New York, a number that was established based on population.

2 On Your Side still does not have a breakdown on how many doses will go to each county in the region.

High-risk health care workers such as emergency room workers and ICU staff will be among the first to get the vaccine, followed by nursing homes, a little more than a week from now.

"Part of the vaccination has to be the fairness of the vaccination process. I believe during COVID many inequities were disclosed, health care disparities were disclosed," Cuomo said. 

New York State is also getting Moderna’s COVID vaccine, and the governor said the state will get 346,000 vaccines from Moderna, again pending FDA approval.

The state expects those doses to arrive the week of December 21.

In the first wave of vaccinations, the state will be doing a little over half a million vaccinations. Those people will then have to get a second dose several weeks later, because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

Hospitals are also preparing for the COVID vaccine.

The CWA 1168 union tells us it’s trying to come to an agreement with Kaleida Health and Catholic Health about getting workers vaccinated.

Niagara Falls Memorial says its received an ultra-low temperature freezer for storing Pfizer’s vaccine. The hospital says it anticipates receiving 975 doses next week and then vaccinating staff. 

"Rather than vaccinating all of the workers in the intensive care unit day and night shift all at one time, what we would do is we would tier it so one-third would get vaccinated one day, and then wait a couple days and do the next third, then the next day do the next third, in the event that you do have some that have side effects," said Joseph Ruffolo, the president and CEO of Niagara Falls Memorial.

Earlier this week, Cuomo announced that New York has opted into the federal government's nursing home vaccination program.

Under the federal program, the state says employees of CVS and Walgreens will vaccinate residents and staff in nursing home facilities.

A spokesperson for Walgreens says: "Walgreens is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Administration in support of Operation Warp Speed to help administer COVID-19 vaccines, once available, to high priority groups, including long-term care facility residents and staff and healthcare workers. We will be collaborating with approximately 35,000 long-term care facilities across the nation that have selected Walgreens as their vaccine provider. Walgreens has the pharmacist expertise, data and reporting infrastructure, cold storage capacity and nationwide footprint required to manage the complexities of administering a COVID-19 vaccine. We will be administering all FDA-approved vaccines, as determined by federal and state local governments."

A spokesperson for CVS says: "We’ll be ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines in long-term care facilities based on anticipated emergency use authorization for one or more vaccine candidates; more than 40,000 facilities have selected CVS as their vaccination partner. It’s important to remember that we run seasonal flu clinics in thousands of these locations every year, which means our health care professionals are very familiar with this population.

"When vaccines are available for wider distribution we’ll offer them at all of our CVS Pharmacy locations, and will have the capacity to administer 20 – 25 million shots every month. Our experience providing vaccinations in a retail setting will be key – this year we’ll administer nearly 20 million vaccinations (including flu shots) – and we’ll apply learnings from our massive COVID-19 testing operation. These include safety measures and cleaning protocols, as well as utilizing a seamless digital experience that will allow people to book their appointments and receive important reminders.

"Bottom line, we’re prepared to play a critical role in the vaccination process utilizing our vast experience and army of trained health care professionals. The CDC has told states the earliest they can start vaccinating in long-term care facilities is 12/21. For states that want to start then, we’ll be in facilities that day."