Those initial batches will cover just over a quarter of the estimated 1.8 million people prioritized to receive the vaccine in the first phase of distribution in the state. Getting through those high-priority vaccinations will also take some time — state officials project to conclude the first phase sometime in January.
The second phase of vaccinations will cover so-called essential workers, an expansive category of workers that has yet to be defined, but which may include police officers, firefighters, teachers, pharmacists, grocery store workers, public transit employees and others. This stage would also include individuals in the general population with comorbidities and underlying health conditions that especially put them at risk to contracting the virus.
Across the region, officials have begun preparation for the vaccine’s arrival.
In New Jersey, where nearly 18,000 deaths have been linked to the virus, the first doses of vaccine will be administered to nurses in Newark, the state’s hardest-hit city. Staff members from University Hospital, New Jersey’s only public hospital, will be first in line, beginning at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, state officials said.
Vaccinations will begin soon after at five additional hospitals with subzero freezers in Camden, Atlantic City, Hackensack, New Brunswick and Morristown, the officials said.
As of Friday evening, state officials were still scrambling to decipher the specifics of the vaccine’s much-anticipated arrival, as they waited for the federal government to grant the Pfizer vaccine, developed in conjunction with BioNTech, the necessary emergency use authorization. Approval came late that evening, setting off a chain of events that finally brought the vaccine to New York.
Even with so much uncertainty, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state had laid out the necessary groundwork — “the most aggressive distribution administration program,” he called it — to deliver the vaccines to hospitals and other sites. New York, like other states, also opted into a federal program that has partnered with the pharmacy companies CVS and Walgreens to administer the vaccines in nursing homes.
“The vaccine is coming and we’re ready to administer it,” Mr. Cuomo said on Friday.
The governor, a third-term Democrat, also announced on Friday that a state task force he convened, after concerns were raised that President Trump was expediting the vaccine rollout for political purposes, had given the Pfizer vaccine its blessing. Some of Mr. Cuomo’s conservative critics had panned the task force as a political maneuver meant to undermine Mr. Trump and that could delay the vaccine’s arrival in New York.