A quarter of New York City’s vaccines are going to people who don’t actually live there. Some don’t even work in the city.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
  • A quarter of people vaccinated in New York City don’t actually live there, local publication The City reported Tuesday.
  • New York City’s essential workers can get vaccines in the city in they live elsewhere.
  • But non-essential workers from outside the city may also be trying to get a shot, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
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More than 25% of people vaccinated in New York City don’t actually live there, local publication The City reported Tuesday.

The city’s essential workers can get vaccines even if they live elsewhere — but non-essential workers from out of the city are also trying to get a shot, the city’s mayor said.

As of Monday, 216,014 people had received a vaccine in the city, The City reported. But almost 28% weren’t actually residents, it reported, citing data from the city’s COVID-19 vaccine tracking site.

Most of those getting the vaccine without living in the city were from elsewhere in New York State, the publication found. But around 7% of people getting the jab in the city were from New Jersey, it added.

A very small group were from Connecticut.

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Under the city’s vaccine guidelines, essential workers, including healthcare staff, grocery workers, and public transit staff, and elderly and vulnerable residents, are currently eligible for the shot. This includes essential workers who work in New York City but live elsewhere.

Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed concerns during a press call Tuesday that people who don’t satisfy this criteria will still try to get vaccinated in the city.

“If someone is from outside the five boroughs and is not a healthcare worker or a first responder or a teacher or an essential worker in New York City, they should not be getting a shot in New York City,” he said.

“They should be getting a shot at their local vaccination centres.”

When people sign up for a vaccine centre, they give details on where they live and work, which should prevent access to those who aren’t eligible, de Blasio said. But he noted that some people are slipping through the cracks.

“It’s the real world — sometimes there’ll be a miss and someone will get through who shouldn’t have and wasn’t in one of those categories,” he said.

“But the rule that’s been laid down is everyone that gets vaccinated at one of our sites has to be in those appropriate categories, and, generally speaking, the reservation process is going to catch that.”

Staff will also follow up at vaccination sites to check eligibility, he added.

The city has more than two million residents who qualify for vaccines, according to Democratic council member Mark Levine, and people from outside the state getting jabs are putting a strain on its supplies.

“To our friends in the suburbs: we love you, but unless you’re an essential worker whose job is in NYC, we can’t vaccinate you,” he tweeted Wednesday night.

The city is given doses based on its population, and not how many doses it uses, he said.

“We can’t continue to have so many people from upstate, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut taking vaccine slots here,” Levine added.

He noted that City-sponsored vaccinations sites are “strict” on checking people’s addresses, but “the many private providers are not.”

During de Blasio’s press conference, he also warned that the city “could run out by the end of next week.”

He followed this up with a tweet the next day saying the city needed a major shipment of doses “immediately.”

“The Federal government needs to STOP holding back supplies,” he added.

The wider state has struggled with its vaccine rollout. Vaccine centres across New York State reported being forced to throw away doses because they couldn’t find enough eligible people to vaccinate under the state’s strict guidelines. The state has since expanded its COVID-19 vaccine pool by 3.2 million more people, and non-healthcare staff in pharmacies can now receive doses that are about to expire.

In early January, the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo had announced a new policy whereby hospitals face a $US100,000 fine if they don’t use their COVID-19 vaccine doses quickly enough. Some of the state’s hospitals had used less than a fifth of their doses, Cuomo added.