NYS Coronavirus Update: Dept. of Health Issues Guidance on "Extra" Vaccine Doses -- Total Hospitalizations Decrease

Dec 18, 2020

- New Yorkers can see the COVID numbers and understand the risks. Destiny is in our hands, and I believe we can and will avoid a shutdown because we can slow the spread and if we do, the hospitals can manage the increase in cases. This is now a footrace between the vaccine and COVID, and as we slow the spread we also have to accelerate vaccine distribution at the same time.

The faster we vaccinate people, the quicker new COVID cases go down. We had some good news today in that respect. We have found that in many cases, vaccinators can get as many as six or seven doses from a single "five dose" vial. That means that our supply of vaccine doses is actually bigger than we thought—and more people can be vaccinated during this early stage of the process.

Vaccinations across NYS from this week.

Photo of the Day: More vaccinations were carried out at hospitals in New York State this week
(Photos by Getty Images/courtesy of Upstate Medical University)


Here's what else you need to know tonight:


1. New York State's independent COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force approved the Moderna vaccine this morning. Their unanimous vote to approve the Moderna-developed vaccine followed the FDA vaccine panel's vote last night to recommend it for Emergency Use Authorization. The formal authorization by the FDA is expected imminently, and the state anticipates receiving 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine next week.


2. Total hospitalizations fell to 6,081—down 66 from the previous day. 1,068 patients are in the ICU, down 27 from the day before. 592 of those patients are intubated, down 19 from the day before. Sadly, there were 120 COVID fatalities yesterday. As has been the case for a number of days, the Finger Lakes continues to have the most hospitalizations as a percentage of their population of any region in the state.


3. The Department of Health issued guidance on administering "extra" doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from vials. COVID-19 vaccine providers have consistently been able to withdraw more than five doses from one five-dose vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. As a result, after consulting with the FDA and the manufacturer, the State Department of Health issued guidance permitting vaccinators to withdraw more than five doses from a single vial, and to use any extra vaccine that can easily be drawn up in a syringe to meet the 0.3 milliliter dose requirement. But extra vaccine fluid from more than one vial cannot be combined to produce extra doses.


4. A record number of tests were reported yesterday. 249,385 tests were reported yesterday in New York State, a new high. Of them, 12,697, or 5.09 percent, were positive. Getting tested frequently is a good practice, especially since so many positive cases are from asymptomatic people (who can nevertheless infect others). Find a testing site here.


Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment"
: The largest publicly accessible fast-charging station for electric vehicles in the Northeast is here—and it's at JFK Airport. The ten-port charging station with high-speed 150kW chargers is part of a joint initiative by the New York Power Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that will reduce New York State's carbon footprint and improve air quality by incorporating electric vehicle technology throughout NY's airports. The EV charging hub will help decarbonize the transportation sector and get New York closer to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050.

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Ever Upward,
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo