ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — People who are immunocompromised are more adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week during a conference call, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a change to CDC guidelines regarding vaccination.
“The CDC made another change in vaccine policy,” Gov. Cuomo said. “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.
“This is really a priority population we should be focused on,” said Executive Director of Albany’s Damien Center Perry Junjulas. “It’s creating confusion, frustration, anger.”
Junjulas, who lives with AIDS, is traveling 100 miles to Utica in mid-March to get his shot. He said he was able to get the vaccine not because of health concerns, but because he works in a congregate setting.
“The state does bear responsibility for this with being able to say, ‘OK, this is what we have or what we’re expecting to have, and so this is who we can reasonably vaccinate,'” Junjulas said.
The slowdown in distribution and limited supply has created a back log in vaccine distribution.
“The medical center and all area hospitals have been asked to focus on the 1a population, which includes health care workers at the hospital as well as 1a in the community,” said Albany Med’s President and CEO Dr. Dennis McKenna. “The vaccine distribution has slowed down so as a result of that we’ve had to tell those scheduled we don’t have a vaccine this week, but as soon as more come in we’ll get them rescheduled,” McKenna said.
In a statement, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network wrote impart:
“The American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network call for states and the federal government to establish fair and equitable vaccine distribution plans and ensure protection for the most vulnerable.”
At this point, Governor Cuomo said it would take seven months to vaccinate the about 7 million people currently eligible to get vaccinated. Time immunocompromised people like Junjulas say they don’t have.