New York expands vaccine eligibility to anyone over 65, those with pre-existing conditions

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a conference call with media Tuesday morning to give an update on the state’s coronavirus response efforts.

The governor announced a change to CDC guidelines regarding vaccination.

“The CDC made another change in vaccine policy,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Seems change is constant and to tell you the truth, I’m looking forward to the new administration because the federal policy is making things extraordinarily difficult. The CDC just announced that states should open up vaccines to 65-plus. This is another major change in a very short period of time. It’s not just 65-plus, it’s 65-plus and immunocompromised and they don’t define immunocompromised.”

The governor said based on the new CDC guidelines, approximately 7 million New Yorkers would be eligible for the vaccine, and that estimation doesn’t fully capture the immunocompromised population of the state.

However, with the expanded eligibility does not come increased supply of the vaccine as the governor said New York only receives about 300,000 doses of the vaccine per week.

“Phase 1a was 2.1 million, Phase 1b was 3.2 million, and you just added 1.8 million, plus the immunocompromised number we don’t even have yet because it depends on how you define it, but you have a population now of 7 million,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We receive 300,000 doses per week. That has not changed. The federal government hasn’t given us an additional allocation. At 300,000 per week, how do you effectively serve 7 million people?”

Even with the expanded eligibility, and lack of supply, the governor said the state will do its best to comply.

“We are going to accept the federal guidance of the 65 plus and immunocompromised,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I don’t want New Yorkers to think were not doing everything we can.”

With compliance in mind, the governor said health care workers would still be the priotiy population while supply remains limited.

“We have priorities among the general population,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Hospitals must still prioritize healthcare workers. That is everyone’s priority, and by the way, from a moral point of view, everyone celebrated the nurses and doctors. You and I, I don’t care how old we are, we’re not walking into the emergency room dealing with COVID patients all day. And if we get COVID we’re not super spreaders. If my office closes down people wont die, if a hospital closes down people will die.”

On Monday, the state moved to Phase 1b of vaccine distribution and local hospital systems are beginning to vaccinate their patients that are 75 years old or older. As of Tuesday’s conference call, state officials said the New York State Department of Health website was already updated to include 65 years or older to begin scheduling appointments.

MORE | ‘Am I Eligible’ app helps New Yorkers determine when they can get the COVID-19 vaccine

“At our current rate of supply, it will take close to six months to vaccinate everyone who’s currently eligible,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Is that helpful? I don’t think so. I don’t think this creates national confidence. I think it creates national frustration.”

In his 2021 State of the State, The governor said New York will seek to establish a rapid COVID-19 testing network to help businesses reopen with reduced capacity restrictions.

For COVID-19, the governor provided the following data:

  • 196,671 COVID-19 tests reported statewide Monday
  • 7.7% positivity rate overall statewide
  • 8% positivity rate in micro-cluster hotspots
  • 7.6% positivity rate outside micro-cluster hotspots
  • 164 New Yorkers died from COVID-19
  • 8,926 hospitalized
  • 1,496 in ICU

The governor said his second day of the State of the State Address would focus on returning the arts and entertainment industries to New York state’s cities, as well as bringing broadband to every corner of the state.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we continue to update this developing story.

Listen to Gov. Cuomo’s full briefing:

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