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New Yorkers aged 65 and over are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.
Cuomo said the surprise announcement was in line with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended that anyone with serious underlying health conditions as well as anyone over age 65 be eligible for vaccination.
Following a firestorm of criticism that the state had initially restricted vaccination eligibility to health care workers, Cuomo last week broadened the criteria to vaccinate New Yorkers age 75 and over as well as essential workers including law enforcement, firefighters and teachers.
Cuomo said 7 million New Yorkers statewide are now eligible to get vaccinated — but complained the state is only receiving 300,000 doses per week, warning of potential backlogs.
“At 300,000 per week, how do you effectively serve 7 million people, all of whom now are eligible? The intelligence of the policy of the federal system eludes me,” the governor said in a conference call with reporters.
“I don’t know how you have 7 million people chasing 300,000 vaccines. Everyone will be oversubscribed.”
Some New York officials are already overwhelmed.
The Erie County Health Department already reported being jammed up with phone calls from residents seeking appointments to get vaccinated.
Nonetheless, Cuomo accept the CDC’s recommendations.
“We are going to accept the federal guidance of the 65-plus and the immunocompromised,” he said.
“I don’t want New Yorkers to think we aren’t doing everything we can … because I want to keep people in New York as calm as we can in these anxious times.”
He said CDC will have to define who is deemed “immunocompromised” — which could be a big category.
The pool will likely include people with heart and breathing problems.
Still, Cuomo said a top priority remains vaccinating as many health care workers as possible so they don’t get sick with COVID-19 and cause staffing problems at hospitals.
Other states such as Florida and Texas decided weeks ago to vaccinate all residents over 65.
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