New York launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Yankee Stadium for Bronx residents on Friday as part of an effort to reach areas with higher levels of spread, with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also announcing statewide eligibility for shots will be expanded to people most at-risk due to health conditions.
In capturing what is at stake in the effort Yankees pitching star Mariano Rivera, who joined the governor during his livestreamed briefing, said: “I used to pitch here and save games, now this is about saving lives … Hope is the name of the game right now.”
Cuomo also announced that, starting on Feb. 15, the state is expanding the vaccination campaign to offer the shots to people with comorbidities or health conditions that put them at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.
“We are going to open it up to people with comorbidities … The prioritization is to reach those people who are most at risk or most essential through this period of time,” Cuomo said.
He said 94% of people who have died from COVID-19 were identified as having comorbidities or other conditions, making them a priority in expanding the vaccination effort in an effective way.
“Comorbidities and age are the major factors” in mortality from COVID-19, Cuomo added, saying the state often hears from other groups that want to be giving access to the shots: “Why don’t we do this group? Why don’t we do this group? You do every group in the state when you do people with comorbidities.”
While Cuomo said his administration is working to clarify some questions about health conditions that will be considered comorbidities for the shots, he said the state will largely follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC website lists cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, heart ailments, immunocompromised states, obesity, severe obesity, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking and Type-2 diabetes mellitus as health conditions that put people at increased risk of severe illness from the virus.
The vaccination campaign will be expanded to more people because the state has reached an important threshold in administering the shots to 75% of hospital workers as of Thursday, Cuomo said, getting in the range of the level of immunity to the virus that the state has been targeting to prevent outbreaks.
Starting on Feb. 15, he said, the state will be able to reallocate that majority of vaccine that had been set aside for hospital workers in the Phase 1A group to local health departments, so those shots could be given to people with comorbidities.
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