New York State is ramping up efforts to get more of its citizens inoculated against COVID-19 as dispensing of vaccine doses continues to fall off.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that at its peak the state administered 175,000 doses in a 24-hour period, but that rate has dropped to a daily average of about 115,000. After nearly four months of vaccinating, about 45 percent of the state has received at least one dose.
Cuomo said the 16-to-25 age group is currently the state’s target audience, with only a 34 percent vaccination rate. The two oldest age groups, 65 to 74 and 75 and up, have been vaccinated at 72 and 80 percent, respectively.
While that isn’t a surprise because COVID-19 was seen as far more likely to cause serious illness or death in older people and the strategy was to vaccinate the senior population first, the percentages are cause for concern, Cuomo said. There may also still be a false sense of security that teenagers and young adults won’t get seriously ill if infected, he said.
“Young people have gotten very sick from COVID. Young people have gotten long-haul syndrome,” said Cuomo, referring to the long-term effects some who have had COVID-19 have experienced even months after the virus has passed.
He urged high schools around the state to voluntarily arrange their schools a pop-up site for students 16 and up or to partner with county health officials to arrange for the Pfizer vaccination, the only one of the three doses that have been approved for people 16 and up. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are only for 18-year-olds and up.
Earlier in the week, the state announced that all of New York’s mass vaccination sites are open to eligible residents as a walk-in on a first-come, first-served basis. The walk-in appointments, which began on Thursday, are for first doses only, with second doses to be scheduled automatically after the initial shot has been administered.
All vaccine providers are also encouraged to allow walk-in appointments for eligible New Yorkers.
As a greater percentage of the population gets vaccinated, Cuomo said the state’s infection rate continues to decline. On Wednesday, the statewide daily positivity rate on the seven-day rolling average fell below 2 percent – at 1.98 percent – for the first time since Nov. 7, just before the fall and winter surge took hold. The statewide rate for Wednesday was 1.8 percent.
Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 2,960, the first time since Nov. 24 it has been below 3,000.
However, 38 more New Yorkers died from the virus on Wednesday.
“Yes, we’re making progress, great progress, but people are still dying every day from COVID, so we have to weight those two facts,” Cuomo said.
In Westchester, active cases fell to 2,858, a continued reduction of about 1,000 cases a week for the past three weeks, said County Executive George Latimer.
For information on eligibility and vaccination sites, the public may call 1-833-697-4829 or visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov