COVID-19

Eligibility to expand Feb. 15 to allow residents with comorbidities to receive vaccine

With hospitals across New York state having now vaccinated 75% of their health care workers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the allocation for hospitals will soon be redirected to local health departments.

The counties will use those doses to begin vaccinating residents with comorbidities starting Feb. 15, the governor said.

“We’re giving them one more week to do their workers,” Mr. Cuomo said of hospitals.

The governor urged hospital leadership to make one last effort to encourage workers who have so far refused to receive the vaccine to take it before Feb. 15, while acknowledging that administrators can’t force anyone to take it. Data shared by the state Friday showed Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead has vaccinated 89.1% of its health care workers, among the highest percentages in the state.

The overall statewide vaccination rate among hospital health care workers was just 63% in January 18 and the governor viewed the 75% figure as a success.

Mr. Cuomo said hospitals will still get enough doses to vaccinate workers who want to take the vaccine in the future, but the bulk of what had been allocated to them will go elsewhere.

Mr. Cuomo said local health departments can use next week to finalize their plans for distribution of the new allocations. He said the state is still awaiting some guidance for who exactly would be eligible under a comorbidity designation, but he described the classification as people with pre-existing conditions and some of the “most at risk” residents.

[Update: The governor released additional information the comorbidity designation. See below]

The governor said 94% of all COVID-19 deaths have included a comorbidity. He said getting doses to this population also helps a wider range of people than when choosing to add a certain industry to the list of eligible people.

“You do [individuals from] every group [of workers] in the state when you do people with comorbidities,” he said.

The governor on Friday also again stressed the importance of getting the vaccine to African Americans. He shared data that showed African Americans make up 17% of all state residents eligible to receive the vaccine, but only 10% of those vaccinated. Other minority groups, he said, are receiving the vaccine in a more proportionate manner.

Overall statewide hospitalizations dipped to 7,937, according to Friday’s data. The positivity rate across the state yesterday was 4.31%. There were 153 fatalities.