Vaccine eligibility in NY increases, but it comes with new challenges

Coronavirus

CLAREMONT, the Bronx — Tuesday marked the first day in which all New Yorkers age 30 or older could were eligible to ve vaccinated against the coronavirus in New York state. Starting next Tuesday, April 6, all New York residents who are 16 or older will be eligible to be inoculated.

It’s all part of a larger effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible. However, the expansion comes with warnings to all Americans including people who’ve been vaccinated: don’t let your guard down just yet.

Mohamed Dioudate had just received his first dose at the Bathgate vaccination center when he was asked about the widening vaccination eligibility.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the better for everybody.”

His comments echoed those of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s health leaders.  

“We’ve got a variety of approaches, but they’re all for the same goal,” the mayor said at his daily news conference on Tuesday, “to reach everyone who needs a vaccination.”

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Earlier in the morning, the mayor had attended an event highlighting the expansion of the city’s program to vaccinate homebound residents. The effort, led by the FDNY, is one of a variety of measures intended to grow vaccination numbers, according to the mayor.

However, with the expansion of eligibility comes challenges, the greatest being availability of vaccine doses.

“We believe in the freedom to vaccinate,” de Blasio said, “but we need the supply.”

He said that he anticipates a boost of vaccine supply in April, but for now, there’s still not enough to meet the city’s goal of 500,000 vaccinations a week. Still, the city reports having administered 3.9 million doses so far.  

However, with about 28% of the population vaccinated, the virus is still very much able to be spread. and lead to illness.

Statewide, 3.4% of coronavirus tests are positive over a seven-day rolling average. Over the same period in New York City, the rate is 6.15%.

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Dr. Sachin Nagrani, the medical director of Heal, a company focused on in-home care, said in an interview that because the pandemic is simply not over, all the precautions that New Yorkers have taken for the past year have to continue.

“The concern is that people are letting their guard down,” Nagrani said. To combat it, he added, “The public health message is to continue to use masks, to continue to socially distance, and not to engage in large gatherings.”

People seem to be complying with that in the city, de Blasio said. At the same time, however, he also pleaded with New Yorkers to keep up the efforts, for a few months, at least.

“We’re all concerned that people are fatigued,” de Blasio said. “We want people to at least through June stick to the mask wearing, social distancing, et cetera.”

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