ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Andrew Cuomo was full of good news during a pair of press conferences Monday. The governor says where before New York had been in a constant struggle for supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, now the state has reached a “flat period” where he says there is now enough to go around to those eligible.
“Over the next few weeks you are going to see the production of the vaccine ramp up. We’ve got more good news, the AstraZeneca vaccine, now another additional vaccine, is going for FDA approval,” Cuomo says.
Cuomo says this makes way for yet another expansion to vaccine eligibility. All those now 50 years of age and over will be eligible to make vaccination appointments starting Tuesday at 8 a.m.
“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’s distribution network is at the ready to handle an expected increase in supply, and we’re excited to expand eligibility even further to New Yorkers over the age of 50 as we move to get through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cuomo says in a statement following the 11:30 a.m. press conference.
“We will have enough vaccines to vaccinate people. We have to make sure we have the capacity and the willingness to take the vaccine,” he also said during the gathering with faith leaders.
Cuomo says 103,425 shots have gone out in the last 24 hours and more than a million in the last week. However, Black and brown communities remain underserved, which is why Cuomo and faith leaders also announced the “Roll Up Your Sleeve” campaign. The initiative asks faith institutions to partner with healthcare providers and start up more vaccination sites.
“I believe when the religious community says it, it’s going to bring an added credibility,” Cuomo says. “Invite your congregation, invite your neighborhood, use your trust, use your relationship to get past this hesitancy,”
“We must come out of this together, and if Blacks have suffered disproportionately, we must disproportionately remedy what the suffering is,” says Rev. Al Sharpton, who joined the gathering via a video call.
“These buildings are temples of trust. Even those that don’t attend a church or synagogue or mosque know that their families always would bury their dead there and marry there and would come to get hope when there was despair,” Sharpton went on to say.
This adds to expanded eligibility for government and non profit workers announced Wednesday and added flexibility for pharmacies to reach patients with comorbidities instead of only teachers and the elderly.
“It’s actually very relieving. I know I can say for most pharmacies, it was getting awfully hard to find people that fit each criteria,” says Miller Young, owner of Young’s Pharmacy in Rensselaer County.
Young says where before it only took a few calls and emails to fill a day’s vaccination clinic, it soon turned to combing thousands of possible applicants just to find 100 for that day’s doses. He says he believes to prevent shots from going to waste, the state should consider also opening up more possibilities for pharmacies.
“The mass vaccination centers are still pulling a lot of the people that we are trying to address too, so for instance 60 and over or even 50 and over. You know, it’s still a little bit hard so if the state would open pharmacies in a mirror of the mass sites, where we had priority for certain people, but the availability to reach out to other groups where we need to, that will definitely help us out in the long run so we’re not stuck with shots,” Young says in a phone interview with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Governor Cuomo has previously said New York is working to meet President Biden’s directive that all adults should be made vaccine eligible by May 1. The governor has not formally announced a plan or schedule for increased eligibility.