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State expands vaccine eligibility to 65 and older, immunocompromised

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Vaccinations continue at Upstate University Hospital.

New Yorkers 65 and older and those who are immunocompromised can now sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement as the state’s vaccine rollout continued to be plagued with problems.

Cuomo said he’s reluctant to add the new category of New Yorkers now because there aren’t enough vaccines yet for front line workers and residents who are older than 75. But he said the Centers for Disease Control now says those 65 to 74 should also be given priority, and he wants New York to obey those guidelines.

“I don't want New Yorkers to think that we are not doing everything we can to make them eligible for the vaccine, because I want to keep people in New York as calm as we can keep people in these anxious times,” Cuomo said. “And I don't want people to think that people in any other state are eligible when they're not.”

Those with compromised immune systems will also be eligible, but Cuomo said the state will need a little time to define exactly what that means, since the federal government does not specify what conditions are included.

Under the new rules, 7 million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine. The state is receiving just 300,000 doses a week from the federal government. The state’s hotline and website to coordinate vaccination appointments continues to be overwhelmed and plagued by problems, with reports of people spending hours on hold, only to have the connection cut, or unable to access the online sign up portals.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.