The de Blasio administration admitted Monday that a handful of schools where COVID-19 vaccines are newly available to students as young as 5 years old do not have enough doses to keep up with the “unprecedented” amount of students seeking them out.
“We had four sites that had delay in getting their supply, that’s being fixed right now,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press briefing, held remotely from City Hall.
De Blasio noted that 12 public schools in Districts 1 and 2 in Manhattan and District 15 in Brooklyn have been home to long lines of students awaiting a shot.
“It’s great to see that kind of demand, we’ve got to match it now,” he vowed. “If we’re seeing more demand, that’s a good thing, but we got to catch up with it quickly.”
De Blasio added that City Hall is “perfectly ready” to add vaccination days to schools where there’s heightened demand for jabs.
The shot shortages come after the mayor announced Wednesday that city-run sites on Thursday would start to offer Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to kids in the 5-to-11 age cohort, and that starting Monday, every Big Apple public school where children in the age range attend classes would have vaccines for one day each.
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the city health commissioner, said in recent days there has been an “unprecedented demand” at some public school buildings where the vaccine is being offered.
“What we’re seeing is unprecedented demand at certain school sites that in those small number of sites is exceeding the amount of vaccine that is currently there, but we’re taking steps to address that by shifting additional supplies to those sites and if necessary, setting up additional vaccination days,” he told reporters. “We will take every step we need to to ensure that anyone who wants a vaccination for their child will be able to get it at the site of their choosing.”
Asked when kids — who are currently permitted to enter inside indoor settings where at least one shot is required without being vaccinated — will need to show proof of vaccination to comply with the Big Apple’s “Key to NYC” program, de Blasio conceded that he didn’t yet have an answer.
“It’s a great question, it’s one I don’t think we’ll settle immediately,” said the mayor. “It will naturally take a number of weeks for that age group to get vaccinated, but it’s a question we need to answer for the weeks ahead and we’ll come back on that.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio announced that municipal employees and city contractors will be afforded four hours of paid sick leave per child who receives a vaccine dose.
“We want to make it really easy for parents in this youngest group,” he said. “We want to make it really, really easy for them to get their kids vaccinated.”
“This is something parents deserve,” he added. “You shouldn’t have to decide between your paycheck and the health of your family.”
Since Thursday, nearly 17,000 kids in the newly eligible age group have been vaccinated, the mayor said. Additionally, 78 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 — all of whom have been eligible to be inoculated against COVID-19 since May — have been vaccinated, he announced.