De Blasio Defies State Guidelines, Readies COVID Vaccine for Elderly Residents

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks after the USNS Comfort pulled into a berth in Manhattan during the coronavirus outbreak, New York City, March 30, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Update 2:45 p.m.: New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would begin to vaccinate residents in “Phase 1B” on Monday, including people over the age of 75. The announcement comes after Bill de Blasio pressured the state to allow health care providers to expand vaccinations.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that the city is preparing to distribute coronavirus vaccines to residents over 75, first responders, and essential public workers, in defiance of state orders to reserve vaccines only for medical professionals.

The only residents currently permitted to receive a vaccine in the state of New York are the medical workers in the state’s “Phase 1A” plan.  The hold on distribution has caused some health clinics to throw away unused vaccines, after doctors were unable to reach enough people to inoculate.

The Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital outside New York City is currently under investigation by the state Department of Health after beginning to vaccinate school and city employees. The DOH announced on Friday that it would take away the vaccine supply from the hospital and impose a fine. (New Rochelle was the site of New York’s first coronavirus cluster in March 2020.)

De Blasio criticized the state’s vaccination effort and called for “the freedom to vaccinate” during a press conference. The mayor said he was planning to open several mass vaccination sites throughout New York City on Sunday.

“We have to acknowledge that the state of New York will not legally allow us to vaccinate New Yorkers over 75 who are vulnerable, nor essential workers,” De Blasio said on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show. “We’re just going to be ready on the assumption that the public outcry and the sheer facts and what our health care leaders are saying are finally going to break through to the state, and that they’re going to allow us to do this.”

The mayor added that the state’s handling of Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital was counterproductive.

“The city of New Rochelle…just proceeded to vaccinate first responders and essential workers, and the state of New York announced that they are fining the city and taking away their vaccine, which is punitive,” de Blasio said. “The state has to relent here—they’ve created a situation that’s creating fear and confusion, and where doctors can’t act even when they know someone’s vulnerable.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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