CDC opens up vaccine eligibility to people above 65

CDC opens up vaccine eligibility to people above  65

Moses Kuwema

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that states should open up vaccines to those above 65 years old and immunocompromised.

And Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to open up the Mets' Citi Field as a 24/7 mega vaccination site during the week of January 25.  
During his state of the state address, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said the CDC had made another change in the vaccine policy. 

"This is another major change in a very short period of time. It's not just 65-plus. They suggest we open it up to 65-plus and immunocompromised and they don't define immunocompromised," Governor Cuomo said.

"Immunocompromised is a category that can be defined a number of ways. Obviously it's people with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, obesity can be considered immunocompromised, pregnancy, sickle cell, smoking can classify a person as immunocompromised, type 2 diabetes is immunocompromised, asthma, so that has to be defined." 

With the new guidelines from CDC, Governor Cuomo wondered how the state would vaccinate seven million New Yorkers eligible for the doses when the state only receives 300,000 dosages per week.

"Just to give you an idea of what that now does. That is a population of 7 million New Yorkers. 1A was 2.1. 1B was 3.2.  You just added 1.8.  The immunocompromised number we don't even have yet because it depends on how you define it, but you have a population that's eligible now of about 7 million," he said.

"We receive 300,000 dosages per week That has not changed. The federal government didn't give us an additional allocation. That's 300,000 per week. How do you effectively serve 7 million people all of whom are now eligible, without any priority?" 

Governor Cuomo said there were some nurses and doctors who have not yet been vaccinated and that these people were now in the category of seven million New Yorkers who desperately want the vaccine quickly.

"This compounds the request for patience because how do you say on one hand 7 million people are eligible and then on the other hand say we only have 300,000 dosages per week?" Governor Cuomo wondered. 

"But there will be a new federal government and the new federal government at the top of the list has to be increasing the priority of production of dosages. You need more vaccine, whether it's Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, or they no longer stockpile the second dose and they release the second dose - those are all decisions they have to make, but they have to make those decisions."

Governor Cuomo however, called on hospitals to continue to prioritizing hospital workers for the vaccine because the number one risk was the collapse of the hospital system.

"That is our number one risk and we're seeing it in states all across the nation and we are balancing on the head of a pin our hospital capacity.

"This U.K. strain is the X factor. I'll get to that in a second, but if that U.K. strain increases the infection rate the way they expect and the way we are seeing, we're going to overwhelm the hospital system. 

"The biggest capacity element in the hospital system is we're losing staff. We're losing staff because the staff is getting sick from COVID. 

"That's why continued prioritization of the hospital staff is key and in the webinar we said hospitals must continue to prioritize hospital staff," he said.

Governor Cuomo said the cases of the UK strain were now up to 80 nationwide and New York has so far recorded 12 cases.

"The United States did not ban or test people from the U.K. even though 120 other countries did. When you don't close the front door, don't be surprised when you have the U.K. strain here," he said.

"We found eight more cases, so we have 12 in New York and we have 80 in the country and that is what's panicking the federal officials with good reason because this is a much higher rate of infection."

And Governor Cuomo said 154 New Yorker died from COVID-19 on Monday and the Bronx recorded the highest positivity rate by borough at 7.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio said who was joined by new Mets owner Steven Cohen during his daily briefing at City Hall, said with Citi Field opened for for mega vaccination, the city will be able to vaccinate 5,000 to 7,000 New Yorkers a day.

And Mayor de Blasio announced 196 new COVID-19 hospitalizations with 5,068 new cases recorded representing 8.15 percent positivity rate.