By Barrett Seaman—
It seems like only last week that the age of eligibility for the COVID vaccine dropped to 50. That’s because it was only last week, and yet, as of tomorrow, New Yorkers age 30 and older can start signing up for appointments.
With supplies of three vaccines now flowing into the state and a whole new host of pharmacies now sanctioned to administer them (see https://www.westchestergov.com/home/all-press-releases/8868-westchester-county-vaccine-allocation-week-of-march-29-2021 for full list), the floodgates are truly open. As of April 6th—only one week away, residents of the state age 16 and older will be eligible. Since the vaccines have been approved for use only for those 16 and older, that means that New York residents in every eligible age category, representing about 80 percent of the state’s population, can get a shot.
“Take it,” advised County Executive George Latimer at his Monday briefing. “It’s good for you. It’s good for the society around you.”
The news comes at a time when infections are creeping back up again, both nationwide and statewide. The Mid-Hudson Region had the highest infection rate in the state over the weekend, though the brunt of that was felt in Rockland and Orange counties. The greatest fear is that more new cases will provide the virus with more opportunities to mutate, with the potential that a new variant may emerge that is resistant to the vaccines currently in use. To underscore the dire nature of the risk, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), spoke of “impending doom.”
The other COVID-related news out of Albany is the launch, as of this week, of a new “vaccine passport,” called the “Excelsior Pass.” Residents who have had a complete dose of any of the three vaccine, or who have recently tested negative, can get a pass by registering with the state, which keeps their vaccination and testing records. The pass can printed out or, more conveniently, kept on one’s smartphone by downloading the Excelsior Pass App. Passholders can gain entry into large venues like Madison Square Garden or eventually onto international flights.