New York Institute of Technology
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As we return from the Thanksgiving holiday, public health officials remain concerned about the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths. As of December 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported over 13.4 million cases of COVID-19 and over 267,000 deaths in the United States since the start of the pandemic. This represents an increase of over 2 million cases and 17,000 deaths in just the past two weeks!

Understandably, this has resulted in a more intense focus on potential vaccines. There is optimism that a coronavirus vaccine will become available by the end of December. This is great news. However, there are a number of additional steps that still must be taken.

First, the vaccine must be submitted by the manufacturers to the FDA and be approved for "Emergency Use." Before it can be distributed in New York State, the data must also be reviewed and approved by the Governor’s Clinical Advisory Task Force, which was established to reassure the public of vaccine efficacy and safety by providing a second layer of expert review.

Upon state approval, access to the vaccine will be prioritized based on the state’s vaccine matrix to ensure that health care workers and members of high-risk populations who work and/or reside in high-risk areas are offered the vaccine first. Decisions will be data-driven, with risk areas determined by the statistical prevalence of coronavirus and special attention given to health inequities. According to the state, “Prioritization decisions will be made mindful of the disparate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and the health disparities present in underrepresented and marginalized communities, and those with historically poor health outcomes.”

The final challenge will be the actual distribution and administration of vaccine. Distributing such a large amount of vaccine—which may also have significant refrigeration requirements—will be a major logistical undertaking. It is expected that various operational governmental entities will need to be involved, including the Department of Health, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the National Guard, the Office of General Services, and the Department of Transportation.

Administering the vaccine will require the participation of existing health care providers from hospitals, long-term care facilities, Federally Qualified Health Centers, community health centers, rural health clinics, private provider offices, local health departments, and other entities that will serve as Vaccination Administration Sites (VAS). Other VAS will include schools, colleges and universities, homeless shelters, correction facilities, and sites where target populations gather.

Vaccination of an entire population is a very complex process and will take time. Therefore, we should all continue to engage in our community mitigation activities such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and remaining at home if ill or symptomatic.

As always, the New York Tech community is welcome to make an appointment for a COVID test at the Academic Health Care Center in Long Island by calling 516.686.1300. For those who may continue to feel anxious or uneasy, please reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.


Brian L. Harper, M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine


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