New Yorkers aged 65 and up are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday morning.
The eligibility expansion, which Cuomo said was effective immediately, dramatically increases the number of people who can receive the vaccine under state rules, which Cuomo widened late last week to include people 75 and over, public safety workers, transportation workers, teachers and certain other groups.
NEW: New Yorkers age 65+ are now eligible for the COVID vaccine — effective immediately.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 12, 2021
Check your eligibility and find vaccination locations near you.
I urge patience as unfortunately there are far more eligible NYers than there is vaccine supply from the federal gov.
Cuomo’s decision came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that states vaccinate people 65 and over. Cuomo criticized federal officials for widening the recommendations on vaccine eligibility without increasing the supply of vaccines.
"The policy and the intelligence of the federal system eludes me," Cuomo said. "We will do the best we can. I happen to be Christian. This is a loaves and fishes situation."
Cuomo also said those who are immunocompromised will be eligible to receive vaccines once the state receives guidance from the CDC on how best to define that category.
The announcement came during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press conference, at which he faced questions from a reporter about why the city had not pushed harder to give vaccine doses to people aged 65 and up.
De Blasio said that the city was already facing enormous demand for the vaccine.
“Until we get a much bigger supply of vaccine, we also know realistically we're gonna have a tough time keeping up with demand from people over 75 and civil servants,” he said.
De Blasio also announced that eligible New Yorkers will soon be able to receive COVID-19 vaccines at the Mets’ stadium, Citi Field, in Queens.
The stadium will be expected to offer between 5,000 and 7,000 vaccinations a day, de Blasio said, and will launch on Jan. 25.
“We welcome Queens residents, we welcome all New Yorkers, we even welcome Yankees fans,” he said, before donning a Mets jersey and hat.
De Blasio touted the stadium’s central location and accessibility by public transit, via the 7 subway train and the Long Island Railroad, and its ample parking spaces. The site will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Steven Cohen, the billionaire hedge fund manager who is now the majority owner of the Mets, joined the mayor’s press conference.
“We know the suffering that's going on with COVID, and any way the organization could help support this effort, we were gonna do it,” Cohen said.
The Citi Field site is one of several new 24/7 vaccine hubs that are opening around the city over the next two weeks. City data shows that vaccination numbers have steadily increased around the city, with drops in vaccinations on weekends.
The mayor repeatedly emphasized that the city needs a larger supply of vaccines, and could run out of doses in as little as two weeks.
“We're gonna need the doses to keep this kind of effort going,” he said.
In response to a question about “vaccine tourism” from out-of-city New York state residents who are coming to the five boroughs for vaccines and taking away doses from eligible city residents or people who work in the city, de Blasio said that the city’s screening methods when scheduling a vaccine should block most of those people.
De Blasio said that the city is undertaking a “massive outreach effort” to reach seniors, including a special focus on the 27 neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic, as well as 12 major NYCHA public housing developments.
Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, commissioner of the city’s Department for the Aging, said that the agency is working with its care provider network to make 60,000 calls per week to eligible seniors, as well as holding virtual town halls and sending out mailers with information about the vaccines.
Cortés-Vázquez said that her agency is also working on a plan with current transportation providers for city seniors to help them get to COVID-19 vaccination sites, as well as encouraging senior centers to use their own vans to transport residents to vaccination sites. De Blasio said that the city is still working on a plan for reaching homebound seniors, and would make an announcement on the plan “very shortly.”
De Blasio also said that public-facing grocery store workers are now included in the state’s 1B phase of vaccine distribution, alongside public safety workers, teachers and other groups. While the state does not yet include food delivery workers, de Blasio said that such workers “deserve the right to be vaccinated."