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Third COVID-19 vaccine option arriving in New York as soon as Wednesday

Workers in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, see off the first

Workers in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, see off the first box of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be placed on a conveyor for delivery on Monday. Credit: AP/Timothy D. Easley

This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Bart Jones and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is expected to arrive on Long Island and in New York City this week, bringing a third option into the battle against the deadly virus, officials said Tuesday.

Northwell Health expects to receive its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at some of its hospitals in the region as soon as Wednesday, health network officials said, while New York City believes the vaccine will start to arrive there Wednesday or Thursday.

Johnson & Johnson is the third approved vaccine against COVID-19, following the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots. Those two vaccines — already given to more than 3 million state residents — require two doses to be effective, while Johnson & Johnson is a one-shot vaccine.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state expects to receive about 164,800 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

Those doses will supplement New York State's expected supply of Pfizer and Moderna for Week 12 of the vaccination campaign — for a total of about 878,080 doses. That is the highest weekly vaccine allocation since the effort to inoculate state residents started, he said in a statement.

Cuomo said that, since the New York State Vaccine Task Force unanimously recommended the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, "We are one more step closer toward eradicating COVID from every corner of our state. I'm confident that we will continue to see increases to our weekly allocation and in turn get even more shots in arms quickly and fairly, but it will take time."

The arrival of a third vaccine is important because millions of New Yorkers have been frustrated in trying to get appointments for one of the elusive shots. Cuomo has said the state needs far larger quantities of vaccine to quickly reach "herd immunity," or enough people inoculated to bring the virus under control.

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The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the easiest of the three to store, because it can be placed in "a regular refrigerator," said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

"It's ideal for mobile vans, senior citizen centers and pharmacies," he said. "It can be stored in a refrigerator for months, and even after it's open, it can be stored in a fridge for six hours and in room temperature for two hours."

Farber added that while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was slightly less effective in stopping COVID-19 entirely, it was "extremely effective in preventing deaths and hospitalizations, and that's very important to emphasize."

New York City's health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said the city is set to get its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as soon as Wednesday or Thursday, to be deployed within days. The city’s focus, he said, would be homebound seniors and others with mobility issues.

Chokshi said the first shipment is "relatively small to start" — about 70,000 doses over two weeks. It will remain "quite limited" until the end of March, when it will ramp up, he said.

"We aim to start that process as soon as possible once we get the vaccine in hand and we work through the protocols to deliver it safely," he said.

He said there is a "small portion" of New York City residents who got the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna but did not return for a second dose. Chokshi noted the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will address that problem.

De Blasio said he plans to get the Johnson & Johnson shot.

Slight uptick in virus positivity

Meanwhile, positivity levels in testing for COVID-19 showed a slight uptick statewide and on Long Island, Cuomo said Tuesday.

The statewide seven-day average of new positives was tracked at 3.09%, having registered at 3.08% the previous day. The daily positivity level from statewide test results Monday was substantially higher, at 4.53%.

State officials did not immediately offer an explanation for the rise in daily positivity, though new variants of COVID-19 have emerged throughout New York, including on Long Island. Researchers continue to study whether these variants spread more easily, cause more severe disease or impair the effectiveness of existing vaccines.

On Long Island, the seven-day average increased to 4.02%, from 3.98% the previous day.

The number of new confirmed cases was 582 in Nassau County, 498 in Suffolk County, and 3,117 in New York City.

Hospitalizations statewide increased by 62 patients, to a total of 5,369.

Northwell Health on Tuesday said the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at the 19 hospitals it owns and operates in the region has dipped to 916, from 984 a week ago.

At the height of the pandemic last April, Northwell reported more than 3,400 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Cuomo also announced the state is expanding a pilot program to test the Excelsior Pass during events at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center.

Similar to a mobile airline boarding pass, the pass uses secure technology to confirm a person’s vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test through a confidential data transfer, Cuomo said.

He wants to use the technology to help fast-track the reopening of theaters, stadiums and other businesses.

The technology was successfully tested during the initial phase of the pilot program during the Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on Feb. 27. It will now be tested for a second time during the New York Rangers game on March 2 at Madison Square Garden.

Veterans can get shots in East Meadow

Eligible veterans in Nassau can begin receiving their COVID-19 vaccine later this week at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday.

The county’s only public hospital will receive 300 doses of the vaccine per week that will be reserved for veterans 65 and older or those who are eligible based on professions or health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness.

The county has about 50,000 veterans, she said.

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NEW SHOTS AFTER-HOURS

The state will launch a pilot program this week to immediately start administering some of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines at three mass vaccination sites, Cuomo said.

  • The shots will be given during the overnight hours between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. at Yankee Stadium, the Javits Center and New York State Fair sites.
  • Starting at 11 a.m. this Wednesday, Bronx residents will be able to make appointments for Yankee Stadium, with administration of the shots beginning on Thursday.
  • All eligible New Yorkers can seek appointments, starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday, for the new vaccine at the Javits Center and State Fair sites, using the state's website at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. The shots at Javits will be given, starting on Friday, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered separately from the Pfizer vaccines at those sites.

SOURCE: New York State

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