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COVID-19: NY State Loosens Restrictions On Who's Eligible For Vaccine

More New Yorkers are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
More New Yorkers are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo Credit: Sun River Health

Following a slow rollout of the much-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, New York continues loosening its restrictions on who is eligible as it continues following the guidance of the federal government.

On Monday, Jan. 11, New York entered “phase 1B” of its vaccination program, which includes first responders, corrections officers, teachers, transit workers, and the general population over the age of 75.

After the CDC released new guidance, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, Jan. 12 that the state would now be opening up vaccines to anyone who is over the age of 65 and those considered immunocompromised.

Among those now eligible includes those with cancer, diabetes, asthmas, and smokers, though that group may be narrowed out of fear that it will slow down the vaccination process statewide.

The new guidance is expected to add millions to the list of those eligible to receive their first dosage of the vaccine.

“I want to keep people in New York as calm as we can keep people in these anxious times,” Cuomo said, though he cautioned that the federal government needs to increase the amount of allocations that are distributed to states.

“The federal government didn’t give us an additional allocation. At 300,000 (vaccines) per week, how do you effectively serve seven million people,” he added. “The policy and the intelligence of the federal system eludes me. The new federal government, at the top of the list, has to be increasing the priority of production of dosages. You need more vaccines.”

Cuomo made note that frontline healthcare workers, nursing home employees, and residents who were the first eligible to receive the vaccine remain the priority as the COVID-19 battle continues.

“The hospitals have to continue to prioritize hospital workers because our number one risk is still the collapse of the hospital system,” he said. “But you’re telling people today that you’re eligible, but you’re simultaneously telling people ‘we don’t have enough dosages for the next six months.’”

Some of Cuomo’s top aides joined him in calling on the federal government to provide additional allocations of the vaccine to states as they continue advising new groups to take the shot.

“Please be patient and manage expectations about when you can get a vaccine,” COVID-19 Response Task Force member Gareth Rhodes said. “We only get 300,000 (vaccines) per week. At this rate of supply, it will take months.”

Melissa DeRosa, the Secretary to Cuomo, added: “Dealing with the federal government right now is like deja vu all over again dealing with them in February or March.” 

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