New Yorkers as young as 50 eligible for COVID vaccination starting Tuesday

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ALBANY — New Yorkers age 50 and older will be able to make appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

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The minimum age has been 60 for those without another qualifying condition such as poor health; risky or vital job title; or high-risk living arrangements.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the decision Monday.

It is the latest expansion of the vaccine-eligible population ordered by the governor, who has noted with each increase that there wasn’t enough vaccine for all the New Yorkers who want it even before he’d expanded the list of recipients. He noted again Monday that demand far outstrips supply.

The reason for making more people eligible to make appointments now, Cuomo said, is so that they’ll already be in line if and when the vaccine supply doubles in early April, as predicted.

Well over 10 million New Yorkers are eligible to be vaccinated under the rules in place through midnight Monday. That will jump by hundreds of thousands more Tuesday. There were roughly 2.66 million New Yorkers age 50-59 at the time of the 2010 census, and while some already were eligible for other reasons, many will become newly eligible to be vaccinated Tuesday morning.

The state’s rapid-fire changes in rules, creation of pop-up vaccination sites and technological limits on appointment-making have increased the level of frustration above the baseline likely to mark any attempt to get an insufficient supply of vaccine distributed across a state of 19.45 million diverse people.

Cuomo for example ordered that pharmacies vaccinate only older New Yorkers, then changed that to older people and teachers starting March 10, then changed that to older people, teachers and a huge cohort of New Yorkers with a laundry list of pre-existing health problems starting March 21.

Despite this ever-changing protocol and list of vaccination locations, or perhaps because of it, about 5.2 million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of COVID vaccine as of Monday morning. A total of 7.4 million doses have been administered statewide in the last three months.

Only 2.7 million New Yorkers have completed their two-dose vaccination series, but one dose is believed to significantly benefit resistance to the COVID virus, which likely claimed its 40,000th victim in New York on Monday.

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(The official state COVID death toll stood at 39,970 at midnight Sunday.)

“We continue to kick vaccinations into overdrive throughout the state by expanding eligibility, establishing new vaccination sites and allowing providers to reach new populations,” Cuomo said in a news release Monday. “More New Yorkers are getting vaccinated every single day, but we still have a long way to go before defeating the COVID beast and reaching safety.”

New York stands at 28th among the 50 states for number of doses administered per capita, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Among the 10 states with 10 million or more residents, New York ranks third in per-capita vaccination.

In and around the Capital Region, the percentage of residents who’ve received at least one dose of the vaccine varies greatly. As of Monday morning, the percentages by county are:

  • Albany 33.0%
  • Columbia 29.8%
  • Greene 25.9%
  • Fulton 21.2%
  • Montgomery 28.1%
  • Rensselaer 28.9%
  • Saratoga 31.6%
  • Schenectady 32.6%
  • Schoharie 23.3%
  • Warren 34.4%
  • Washington 24.1%

Of New York’s 62 counties, the county with the smallest population (Hamilton, 4,515 residents) has achieved the greatest degree of vaccination: 55.5%

One of the most populous counties (Bronx, 1.44 million residents) has the lowest rate of vaccination of any county in the state, 18.4%.

Not coincidentally, the Bronx also has the largest percentages of Black and Hispanic residents of any county in the state. Black and Hispanic New Yorkers lag well behind white and Asian New Yorkers in receiving the vaccine. Cuomo has made a priority of making the vaccine available to these communities and encouraging them to receive it.

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