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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday nursing home residents will receive the next 80,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the state worries about the health of their population's most vulnerable residents.
So far, Cuomo said around 4,000 of the 87,000 doses of the vaccine the state received from Pfizer and BioNTech have been administered, mostly to health care and frontline workers earlier this week.
But elderly residents of long-term care facilities will likely receive their first doses, which will "arrive in the next days" and be administered by CVS and Walgreen pharmacies starting Monday.
Since many nursing homes don’t have the refrigeration to store the vaccine, pharmacists will bring batches of the COVID-19 vaccine to the facilities on a staggered basis, said Michael Balboni, president of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, which represents 235 nursing homes in and around New York City, according to the NY Post.
All in all, there are roughly 135,000 staff and 85,000 residents — for a combined 210,000 potential patients– in nursing homes.
The focus on nursing homes comes as Cuomo is still facing backlash from an onslaught of coronavirus cases that infected thousands of elderly patients at care facilities earlier in the pandemic.
In March, the Democratic governor directed nursing homes in the Empire State to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19.
As of Dec. 7, according to the non-profit Long Term Care Community Coalition, nursing homes and adult care facilities had 7,147 reported COVID-19 deaths.
Cuomo has defended the nursing home policy as in line with guidance from the Trump administration at the time.
New York has continued to tighten coronavirus restrictions in the state, closing New York City indoor dining options ahead of the holidays, much to the ire of restaurant owners, many of whom say their businesses risk collapse from the latest closure.
Cuomo has said that up to 85% of the country's population would need the vaccine for it to be effective, but it would be months before the general public saw enough supply to receive it.
The state is hoping for an additional shipment of vaccines from Moderna that could serve 346,000 people.
Cuomo said Wednesday: "In New York State, no person will pay a penny for a vaccination."
He said insurers will cover all costs associated with the COVID-19 fighting cocktail, according to a memo the state's Department of Financial Services will be releasing.