All Adults in New York Will Be Eligible for Vaccination Next Week

New York announced on Monday that it will make all adult residents eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 6, a symbolic shift in the state’s recovery from a deadly pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of residents and crippled the state’s economy. Yet the expansion will significantly test the state’s health apparatus, which will face a flood of newly eligible residents seeking coveted appointments while the vaccine supply just matches demand. The race to vaccinate New Yorkers comes at a critical time during the pandemic: The state is recording new cases of the virus at one of the highest rates in the country, with several more contagious variants of the virus continuing to spread. “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,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Monday. The expanded vaccination program puts New York on track to beat President Biden’s goal of making every adult in the country eligible for a vaccine by May 1. Before Monday, it was one of only a few states that had not yet set a timeline to do so. New York will first allow residents who are 30 and older to begin receiving vaccinations on Tuesday. It will then expand to all those 16 and older on April 6. The expansion comes one year after the worst period of the initial coronavirus outbreak in New York State. Asante Mensah, 42, broke into a smile when he learned he would soon be eligible for the vaccine. “It feels so great,” Mr. Mensah, a security guard who lives in Brooklyn, said. Samra Albertine, 17, said she intended to make an appointment as soon as she became eligible. “It makes me less likely to get the virus,” she said. “And I want to see more people.” Even as Mr. Cuomo gradually loosened vaccine eligibility criteria over the last month, lowering age thresholds and broadening the pool of workers who qualified, he expressed reluctance to set a specific target date for doing away with the state’s requirements. The governor said last week that he did not want to outline a timeline for more widespread vaccination until he was more confident that New York would have adequate vaccine supply on hand for its population. “I just want to make sure that the allocation projections that we’re getting from the feds are right, frankly,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference last week. “I don’t want to say ‘We’re going to open up to 30-year-olds in three weeks,’ and then something happens with the allocation.” A spokesman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Even before expanding eligibility, the state had faced concerns over its ability to provide shots to those who needed them most. Those seeking appointments had to check dozens of websites, with the state and New York City having completely distinct scheduling systems, both of which favored residents who had high-speed internet access or who had ample time to sit and refresh sites for appointments. Updated March 29, 2021, 6:46 p.m. ET Marian Carney Ryan, 51, a teacher who lives in Rochester, said that booking an appointment for her shot had been a messy endeavor. “It was a huge competition,” Ms. Ryan said. “It was like getting tickets to a Rolling Stones concert.” Just hours after Mr. Cuomo’s announcement, there were signs that demand for appointments for the newly eligible might be overwhelming. TurboVax, a website that compiles availability from city and state vaccine systems to help people locate open appointments, said on Twitter that 22,000 users were looking for vaccination slots on its site on Monday afternoon — more than four times its previous high. As of Monday, 29.6 percent of people in New York State had received at least one shot of a vaccine, while 16.8 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the state Health Department’s data. In New York City, about 32 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to city data. The city has quickened its vaccination pace in the last month, with about 66,000 vaccine doses administered per day in March, up from about 44,000 per day in February. While many are eager to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, the state must still confront a number of people who are skeptical about coronavirus vaccines or reluctant to get vaccinated, even as studies have shown the shots to be safe and effective. Public health experts have repeatedly emphasized the need for widespread immunity to limit the spread of the disease and facilitate continued reopening. The state has launched campaigns meant to address vaccine hesitancy, which could threaten efforts to slow the virus’s spread. Keishorne Scott, 34, a life coach in Brooklyn, said that while he was happy more people would be eligible, he did not immediately plan to get vaccinated. Instead, he wanted to wait and see if those who received the vacci

All Adults in New York Will Be Eligible for Vaccination Next Week
New York announced on Monday that it will make all adult residents eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine by April 6, a symbolic shift in the state’s recovery from a deadly pandemic that has killed tens of thousands of residents and crippled the state’s economy. Yet the expansion will significantly test the state’s health apparatus, which will face a flood of newly eligible residents seeking coveted appointments while the vaccine supply just matches demand. The race to vaccinate New Yorkers comes at a critical time during the pandemic: The state is recording new cases of the virus at one of the highest rates in the country, with several more contagious variants of the virus continuing to spread. “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,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Monday. The expanded vaccination program puts New York on track to beat President Biden’s goal of making every adult in the country eligible for a vaccine by May 1. Before Monday, it was one of only a few states that had not yet set a timeline to do so. New York will first allow residents who are 30 and older to begin receiving vaccinations on Tuesday. It will then expand to all those 16 and older on April 6. The expansion comes one year after the worst period of the initial coronavirus outbreak in New York State. Asante Mensah, 42, broke into a smile when he learned he would soon be eligible for the vaccine. “It feels so great,” Mr. Mensah, a security guard who lives in Brooklyn, said. Samra Albertine, 17, said she intended to make an appointment as soon as she became eligible. “It makes me less likely to get the virus,” she said. “And I want to see more people.” Even as Mr. Cuomo gradually loosened vaccine eligibility criteria over the last month, lowering age thresholds and broadening the pool of workers who qualified, he expressed reluctance to set a specific target date for doing away with the state’s requirements. The governor said last week that he did not want to outline a timeline for more widespread vaccination until he was more confident that New York would have adequate vaccine supply on hand for its population. “I just want to make sure that the allocation projections that we’re getting from the feds are right, frankly,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference last week. “I don’t want to say ‘We’re going to open up to 30-year-olds in three weeks,’ and then something happens with the allocation.” A spokesman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Even before expanding eligibility, the state had faced concerns over its ability to provide shots to those who needed them most. Those seeking appointments had to check dozens of websites, with the state and New York City having completely distinct scheduling systems, both of which favored residents who had high-speed internet access or who had ample time to sit and refresh sites for appointments. Updated March 29, 2021, 6:46 p.m. ET Marian Carney Ryan, 51, a teacher who lives in Rochester, said that booking an appointment for her shot had been a messy endeavor. “It was a huge competition,” Ms. Ryan said. “It was like getting tickets to a Rolling Stones concert.” Just hours after Mr. Cuomo’s announcement, there were signs that demand for appointments for the newly eligible might be overwhelming. TurboVax, a website that compiles availability from city and state vaccine systems to help people locate open appointments, said on Twitter that 22,000 users were looking for vaccination slots on its site on Monday afternoon — more than four times its previous high. As of Monday, 29.6 percent of people in New York State had received at least one shot of a vaccine, while 16.8 percent were fully vaccinated, according to the state Health Department’s data. In New York City, about 32 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to city data. The city has quickened its vaccination pace in the last month, with about 66,000 vaccine doses administered per day in March, up from about 44,000 per day in February. While many are eager to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, the state must still confront a number of people who are skeptical about coronavirus vaccines or reluctant to get vaccinated, even as studies have shown the shots to be safe and effective. Public health experts have repeatedly emphasized the need for widespread immunity to limit the spread of the disease and facilitate continued reopening. The state has launched campaigns meant to address vaccine hesitancy, which could threaten efforts to slow the virus’s spread. Keishorne Scott, 34, a life coach in Brooklyn, said that while he was happy more people would be eligible, he did not immediately plan to get vaccinated. Instead, he wanted to wait and see if those who received the vaccine had negative side effects. “I think it’s one step closer,” Mr. Scott said. “Safety is another reason for people to get it, but it’s challenging. A lot of people are still afraid.” New York, like states across the country, has also faced significant concerns over providing equitable access to vaccinations, particularly in low-income communities of color in New York City that were hit the hardest by the virus but where inoculations have lagged. Officials have worked to set up a number of vaccination sites in those areas, but the disparity has persisted. The city’s data shows that of the residents who received one dose of a vaccine and whose race was recorded, about 37 percent were white, 19 percent were Latino, 19 percent were Asian and 14 percent were Black. Latino and Black residents were especially underrepresented: The city’s population is roughly 29 percent Latino and 24 percent Black. The further expansion of vaccination comes as New York has been adding new virus cases at one of the highest rates among U.S. states. As of Monday, the state had a seven-day average of 49 new virus cases a day for every 100,000 residents, second by a fraction of a percent to New Jersey, according to a New York Times database. The United States as a whole was averaging 19 new cases per 100,000 people, though cases are rising again as variants spread and as many state leaders have eased up on restrictions. Even as the number of new cases continues to rise in New York, the state has not faced anywhere near the level of devastation that it experienced a year ago, when hospitals were overwhelmed with patients and morgues were overflowing. Mr. Cuomo has for months said that vaccinations would be key to the state’s ability to reopen shuttered businesses and raise capacity limits. Last month, the governor allowed sporting events and concerts to resume at large venues with limited capacity. Earlier this month, movie theaters, among the first businesses to shut last year, were able to bring back audiences, also at limited capacity. Restaurants in New York City are also allowed to serve diners indoors at 50 percent capacity, their highest level of indoor dining since Mr. Cuomo closed them last year at the onset of the pandemic. (In the rest of the state, the maximum capacity is at 75 percent.) Nate Schweber contributed reporting.