State allocates 35,000 doses of COVID vaccine for college students

RN Joan Thompson prepares the Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Union College Viniar Center Friday

RN Joan Thompson prepares the Johnson & Johnson single dose COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Union College Viniar Center Friday

ALBANY — With one in four New Yorkers now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the state is allocating doses specifically for college students who soon will be leaving the semi-contained environments of their campuses.

The state announced Monday that 21,000 doses will be administered at public colleges and universities and 14,000 at private schools statewide. In both settings, students who are residents rather than commuters will be the priority to receive the shots.

“Vaccinating college students statewide before they return to their hometown communities at the end of the semester is the next step in this methodical process,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “It is the best way for students to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

Most New York college students became eligible for vaccination just last week, when the state opened the process to anyone age 16 or older.

As of Monday morning, 37.9% of New Yorkers had received at least one dose of COVID vaccine and 24.9% had received a complete series. In and near the Capital Region, county-level rates ranged from 28.3% of Fulton County residents to 45.6% of Albany County residents with at least one dose.

This compares to 36.4% of the population with at least one dose nationwide.

Albany County took the next step Monday: Health officials outlined plans to expand school district-specific vaccination clinics this week — using a supply of Pfizer vaccine to inoculate 16- and 17-year-olds. Schenectady County hopes to do the same, but interim Public Health Director Keith Brown said the county currently has supply only of the Moderna vaccine, which unlike the Pfizer vaccine has not been approved for use among 16- and 17-year olds.

Meanwhile, the statewide positive COVID test rate was 3.2% Monday, the lowest level in a four-week period in which it ticked as high as 3.6%. In and near the Capital Region, seven-day rates ranged from 1.6% (Rensselaer County) to 4.1% (Montgomery County). The statewide COVID-positive hospital census stood at 4,118, the lowest total since early December. The official state death toll increased to 41,198 with 58 new deaths, including one each in Albany and Schenectady counties.

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