BUFFALO, N.Y. — As the rapid spread of COVID-19 continues to permeate the country, New York State, like many states, is anxiously awaiting the FDA's decision on whether this first vaccine is in fact qualified to slow the spread and ready for deployment.
In his COVID-19 update on Wednesday Gov. Cuomo made it clear, while New York has done a good job combating COVID-19, the deployment and prioritization of the a vaccine poses a whole new set of challenges.
If approved, 170,000 doses are set to arrive in New York,14,500 of those are designated for Western New York alone, where hospitalization numbers are peaking higher than they were back in April.
"I can't think of a government operation that has been commenced that is more difficult and intricate than what governments will be asked to do here, " Cuomo says.
According to experts, in order for the vaccine to be effective, 75-85% of people need to be vaccinated. The problem is, data shows 50% of people are still skeptical about getting vaccinated.
Which is why Gov. Cuomo is stressing the importance of the NYS COVID-19 Counsel's immediate review following the FDA's as a means of quelling statewide concerns.
"It's a massive undertaking, I think frankly people have not focused enough on the extent of what this undertaking means," he says.
Cuomo went on to say that public education, equal and just deployment, as well as efficiency are key to the vaccine succeeding in New York State.
As for prioritization, New York State will follow the government's suggestion on prioritization.
"The first allocation is for nursing home residents, nursing home staff, and high risk health care workers," Cuomo says.
A decision Dr. John Sellick, an epidemiologist with Kaleida Health, strongly agrees with.
"if you think back to the Spring and you look across the country, especially in Downstate New York, you saw the amount of carnage in older people from nursing homes," Dr. Sellick points out.
Which is why he tells 2 On Your Side, the first priority needs to be vaccinating the most frail, along with those who care for them, and front line workers who come face-to-face with COVID-19 day after day.
"People who work in the emergency departments, people who work on the COVID 19 unit, people who work in the ICUs, these are the people we need to keep healthy so they can keep us healthy."
As of right now, New York State and its residents are at a standstill...waiting...for both a decision and a vaccine.