A health care worker gives a picture of the Moderna COVID-19 to a woman at a pop-up vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York on January 29, 2021 Vaccine.
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New York State plans to take unused Covid-19 vaccine doses from hospitals and give them to city and county health departments to be distributed to people with underlying health conditions starting Feb.15, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Friday.
The state has focused on vaccinating its health care workers and long-term care facility residents with its initial rations of Covid-19 shots. Now, hospitals have a week to use up their doses for staff before the state transfers the vials to local health departments for people with pre-existing health conditions that are at high risk for serious illness, Cuomo said.
“Hospitals, you still have a week to get your hospital staff to accept the vaccine and then we will focus on the comorbidities,” Cuomo said at a press conference.
Cuomo didn’t specify what health conditions someone would need to have a vaccine, despite saying New York officials are working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to compile a “list of comorbidities.”
In January, the federal government, under the former Trump administration, proposed that states should open their vaccination eligibility to people 65 and over and to those with conditions like diabetes. The CDC lists a number of conditions such as cancer, heart failure, obesity, and pregnancy that are at higher risk of developing serious illness from Covid-19.
The Democratic governor added that the hospitals will continue to receive adequate care to vaccinate “who to do and who to plan and which workers to convince to take it”. All doses above that amount will be given to local health officials, he said.
To date, New York has administered more than 1.7 million first vaccine doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as well as nearly 500,000 second vaccine doses, according to the Democratic governor. Around 7 million New Yorkers can currently be vaccinated.
Cuomo said the state has used almost all of the doses it has been allocated and is now awaiting supplies next week.
In mid-January, Cuomo expanded the pool of people eligible for vaccines in New York aged 65 and over, as well as people in certain key industries such as teachers, police and transit workers. However, some residents struggled to sign up for appointments in New York due to limited availability.
“We don’t have an offer that can reach everyone, we understand that,” said Cuomo. “So the prioritization is to reach those people who are most at risk or most important for this period.”