PPE being distributed in Harlem (303067)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

More New Yorkers become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as the city becomes closer to herd immunity with many saying the end is in sight. However, a dangerous rise in cases in 22 states, including New York, could slow things down.

In New York City, there have been 840,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 31,000 people have died from the virus. This week Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed suit with many other states permitting New Yorkers age 30 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Residents 16 and older will be eligible on April 6.

All 50 states now have a plan in place to allow everyone to be vaccinated. President Joe Biden announced this week that 90% of adults in the nation will be eligible for the vaccine in three weeks ahead of his original May 1 goal.

“As we continue to expand eligibility, New York will double down on making the vaccine accessible for every community to ensure equity, particularly for communities of color who are too often left behind,” Cuomo said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but until we get there it is more important than ever for each and every New Yorker to wear a mask, socially distance and follow all safety guidelines.”

As of Tuesday, the city has vaccinated 3.9 million people, well on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of getting 5 million people vaccinated. However, supply remains an issue. As the age of eligibility lowered, appointments for first dose vaccines were already booked.

Thirty-somethings have been amplifying their frustrations about trying to find a vaccine on social media. Some report looking online for hours to find an appointment.

“I tried to get a vaccine appointment for 12 hours today & still unsuccessful,” one man on Twitter said.

“I wonder how many people are going to just straight up give up on getting vaccinated because of the NY state vaccine process,” another user said.

Reports indicate that as soon as people 30 and up became eligible for the vaccine, none were available within 30 minutes.

“We believe in the freedom to vaccinate, but we need the supply,” he said. “That is always going to be the message. We’re hopeful in April the supply numbers are going to really go up and that’s going to be fantastic. Again, well on our way to the goal of 5 million adult New Yorkers fully vaccinated by June.”

The New York State Supreme Court ruled that all incarcerated people in the state must be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. In total, 35 incarcerated people in the state’s prison system have died from COVID-19. Over 6,000 incarcerated people have tested positive for the virus.

State officials say over 19,000 vaccines have been given to corrections staff and incarcerated people since February. This week, eligibility was expanded to include all incarcerated individuals whether in state or local facilities.

“This decision is a critical step to stopping the spread and harm of COVID-19 in New York State prisons and jails, and outside communities across the state,” said Release Aging People in Prison Director Jose Saldana. “We thank the attorneys who worked tirelessly to make this possible and look forward to helping to hold Governor Cuomo accountable to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are administered as thoughtfully and swiftly as possible.”

Meanwhile, New York is seeing a more than 10% increase in COVID-19 cases. Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky confirms cases are rising nationally and fears a fourth wave of cases.

Hospitals are receiving patients in previous ineligible groups who are in their 30s and 20s, many of whom are not yet vaccinated. Health experts say the culprit is people having indoor gatherings and not wearing masks. Variants continue to be a major threat to those unvaccinated.

COVID-19 cases remain high particularly in Harlem where one zip code in the neighborhood has an infection rate of 6.7%