ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN)- Some businesses in the Capital Region are telling customers they must provide proof of vaccination if they want to eat, shop, or see a show. Guidance from the state does not take into consideration the waning of immunity months after getting vaccinated nor mention anything about booster shots.
Proctors Theater, DeeDee’s Tavern, the Waterworks Pub, and The Lionheart Pub and Brewery are just some of the places telling customers they will need to provide proof of vaccination.
Waterworks Pub in Albany said they are following the state Department of Health’s (DOH) directives. People must provide proof that it’s been at least 14 days since they have been fully vaccinated in order to go to the pub. That means someone who became fully vaccinated in January would still be allowed into Waterworks despite research showing a person’s immunity decreases over time and booster shot recommendations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of fully vaccinated hasn’t changed even though there’s plenty of evidence that the effectiveness of vaccines decreases as time goes on and variants keep popping up as the Delta variant did first, now Omicron.
Governor Kathy Hochul said at some point people may be considered fully vaccinated if they have gotten a booster but said, “We’re not there yet,” when asked about it at Tuesday’s press conference. It could be that boosters aren’t yet considered an essential part of being vaccinated because initial doses are still effective at preventing illness and hospitalizations.
Initial doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson were shown to be 79% effective at preventing illness and 94.7% effective at preventing hospitalizations the week of November 15, according to the DOH website. Gov. Hochul said the COVID pandemic is now a “crisis of the unvaccinated.”
As has been reported for many months, the number of unvaccinated New Yorkers who end up hospitalized from COVID is several times higher than those vaccinated. On November 15, the rate of COVID hospitalizations in unvaccinated people was 8.8 per 100,000 compared to 0.8 per 100,000 for vaccinated people.
Those statistics could change with the surge in cases and hospitalizations seen since Thanksgiving. Cases statewide have risen 58% while hospitalizations have risen 70% per 100,000 since the holiday, Gov. Hochul said. Because it takes the DOH some time to look over data it won’t immediately be known whether the effectiveness of vaccines will hold.
Gov. Hochul encouraged New Yorkers to get vaccinated if they haven’t already and encouraged them to get a booster shot. As of Tuesday afternoon, 81% of New Yorkers have gotten at least one dose of COVID vaccine, 70.4% are fully vaccinated. Approximately 3.4 million have gotten an additional dose.