New York City pace of vaccinations too slow, experts say

New York City's 7-day rolling COVID-19 infection rate is inching ever closer to the double digits — 9.41% as of the first day of 2021.

But the vaccination rollout remains slow. Less than 1% of the city's population has gotten a shot so far. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his plans to get a million people vaccinated this month.

But even that would leave us lagging, according to the chairman of the City Council's Health Committee.

"It is both ambitious and also not enough that plan would get us to the end of January — 300,000 a week and even that is not where we need to be," Chairman Mark Levine said.

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Dr. Ronald Scott Braithwaite, a professor of population and medicine at NYU School of Medicine, agrees.

"While it's admirable to try to vaccinate 1 million people [in January], I would hope we could set our hopes much higher and try to vaccinate 4 million people in the next month," Braithwaite, an adviser to the city, told FOX 5 NY. 

While that goal may be unrealistic given supply chain issues, Braithwaite's research said accelerating the program is particularly needed in the face of a mutated strain. He said we won't see any impact on the city's positivity rate until at least 10% to 20% of the population is vaccinated. And any return to normalcy requires a far higher percentage.

"We can only have a return to normal life without all the social distancing and without all the mask-wearing if we get to about 60% of people vaccinated," Braithwaite said. "So even at a million a month, it's going to take a while to get to that 60%."

The United States has surpassed 20 million cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million coronavirus cases globally are Americans. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have also totaled more than 346,000. 

Officials are racing to vaccinate millions of Americans but have come off to a slower and messier start.

Earlier this week, President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations.

With The Associated Press