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New York lags behind dozens of states in universal COVID vaccine eligibility

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Several US states have opened COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults, and nearly two dozen others have set upcoming dates for universal eligibility — but New York still has no timeline for opening inoculations to all.

On March 9, Alaska became the first state in the country to make coronavirus vaccine shots available to anyone over the age of 16 who lives or works in the state.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy made that announcement two days before President Biden announced that he will direct all states to make all adults in the US eligible for the vaccine by May 1.

Mississippi became the second state to open up its vaccine eligibility on March 16 — and a number of other states have since followed suit.

This week, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday that the Mountain State will immediately open up coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all residents aged 16 and older, while Georgia, Texas and Indiana revealed universal eligibility dates for March 25, March 29 and March 31, respectively.

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On Wednesday, vaccine eligibility opened up for all adults in Utah and in Arizona all residents 16 and older became qualified to get jabbed at state-run sites.  

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on Wednesday that residents age 16 and above will be eligible to get the shot starting Monday.

In Oklahoma, Ohio and North Dakota, vaccine eligibility will open up to all adults on March 29.

Other states such as Montana, Connecticut, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Idaho and Maryland have all announced specific dates for when the vaccine eligibility pool will open in April.

The vaccine eligibility expansions throughout the US comes as roughly 3 million vaccine doses have been administrated throughout the country on a daily basis in recent days.

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Despite the progress across the nation, New York — where more than 40,000 people have died of the coronavirus — has no timeline in place to open up vaccine eligibility.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at a press conference in New York City on March 24, 2021.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking at a press conference in New York City on March 24, 2021.
EPA/BRENDAN MCDERMID / POOL

Empire State Gov. Andrew Cuomo would not commit to any date when asked about the matter during a Wednesday press briefing.

“We get an allocation [of vaccine supply] from the federal government, depending on the allocation from the federal government of vaccinations. We distribute them, and then we open the eligibility, to the extent we have allocation,” Cuomo said.

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The governor this week lowered the vaccine eligibility age to 50, so that all New Yorkers 50 and above can receive the shot in addition to some essential workers, nursing home residents and staffers and those who are immunocompromised.

“We’re now down to 50 plus. We will be changing those numbers as we get more allocation,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said other states that have already set dates to open up the vaccination eligibility pool, “are projecting forward on what the federal government will provide.”

“You could project through April, through May, and come up with dates based on allocations,” Cuomo said. “I’d rather get the specific allocation number, and then tell the people of the state, so we don’t, we don’t have to change…and we don’t create pandemonium for the scheduling section.”

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan

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