New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will be changing the eligibility ages to receive the COVID vaccine. Originally, the vaccine was restricted to those 50 and over, unless they were specifically employed to be at risk or under any health risks that could cause severe illness, but as of Tuesday, March 30, that age has been lowered to everyone 30 years or older. He has also announced that the youngest age that can receive the vaccine has now been lowered to 16 and they will be able to begin scheduling appointments by April 6. The state has also said that they will be extending eligibility to incarcerated individuals at both state and local facilities.
Though originally reluctant to loosen the eligibility requirements because he wanted to ensure that New York would have an adequate vaccine supply, Cuomo stated “today we take a monumental step forward in the fight to beat COVID,” continuing the fight against COVID by beginning ahead of the deadline set by President Biden. However, he is still encouraging New Yorkers to remain patient while trying to get an appointment to get their vaccine and to not show up to vaccine sites without one.
As of now, almost 3 out of 10 New Yorkers have been administered at least the first dose of the vaccine and in total more than 2 million doses have been administered. New York has the current highest rate of infection in the country, once again, with an average 548 cases for every 100,000 residents over the last two weeks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has stated that he has a goal to vaccinate 500,000 people per week through vigorous vaccination efforts, including 24-hour vaccination centers.
Amidst Cuomo’s decision to resume sporting events and concerts, reopen movie theatres as well as allowing restaurants to serve indoors at 50% capacity, the mayor and the health commissioner are urging caution as we enter Holy Week and Passover. Though the state is not experiencing the severe and startling backups it was during the first months of the pandemic, many have concerns that the state is opening too quickly, allowing people to let their guard down and promote more dangerous spreading as the virus continues to mutate.
Dr. Dave Chokshi, the health commissioner, encourages consistent testing and to stay within your household or in groups that are in the single digits as you observe and celebrate.