Photo from the opening of COVID-19 Vaccination Site at St. Luke’s Church in the Bronx, via Governor Cuomo’s office/Flickr
Governor Cuomo announced on Friday, that beginning Monday, February 15th, New Yorkers of any age 16+ with certain comorbidities and underlying health conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. This includes conditions such as moderate to severe asthma, pregnancy, heart disease, and type 1 or 2 diabetes.
In a statement on Friday, Governor Cuomo said:
We’re committed to vaccinating vulnerable populations that have suffered the most as we distribute a strictly limited supply of vaccines, and people with comorbidities are 94 percent of the state’s COVID deaths. That’s why we’ll open eligibility to people with comorbidities starting February 15 and give hospitals the ability to use extra doses they have to address that population. Local governments have a week to prepare for the new change—they need to get ready now.
Previously, vaccine appointments were available to New Yorkers in groups 1A (healthcare workers and nursing home residents/staff) and 1B (education workers, first responders, public safety workers, public transit workers, public-facing grocery store workers, and New Yorkers 65+). This amounted to roughly 7 million people. The newest group brings this total to 10 million, about half of the state’s total population.
As the governor reemphasized today, the issue is still the number of doses being provided by the federal government. “We have a much larger distribution network than we have supply. We have many more distributors than we have product on the shelves.” Throughout the state, there are 5,000 distribution centers, many of which are not operating at their full capacity. “But, at one point, the supply will increase, and we want to be ready,” the governor added.
Part of the reason the state will begin vaccinating New Yorkers with underlying health conditions the week of February 15th is that that will have been 10 weeks since the effort began, and 10 weeks since hospital workers became eligible. On January 18th, only 63 percent of healthcare workers had received the vaccine. On January 25th, that increased to 72 percent, and on February 7th to 75 percent. This week, week 9, the state will allocate to hospitals whatever supply they need to finish vaccinating all eligible workers who want the vaccine (those who do not, cannot be forced). The excess supply that was for hospital staff will be used starting next week to open eligibility to those with pre-existing conditions.
Those eligible in the latest group can begin making appointments as of Sunday, February 14th for state mass vaccination sites such as the Javits Center. Local health departments will determine where, when, and how to schedule these appointments in their jurisdictions beginning February 15th.
Those with comorbidities will have to provide validation of their condition through a doctor’s letter, evidencing medical information, or a signed certification. To ensure this is followed, the state will audit local systems’ Tiberius data. Tiberius is a federal software platform that was designed to assist with the vaccine effort.
The full list of conditions is as follows:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
New Yorkers seeking to determine eligibility and schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, can visit the ‘Am I Eligible’ website. New Yorkers may also call their local health department, pharmacy, doctor, or hospital for additional information and to schedule appointments where vaccines are available. Residents of New York City can make an appointment by visiting nyc.gov/vaccinefinder or calling 877-VAX-4NYC.
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