State drops age to 65 for vaccine

Oneida County receives 1,300 more doses

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Staff and wire reports

New York state is following federal guidance and opening COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents age 65 and older, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Cuomo expressed some frustration at the change in policy by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending making vaccines for all those age 65 and older, saying there aren’t enough vaccine doses for such a large group especially while not all healthcare workers have been inoculated. He said that between all now-eligible groups, there are 7 million New York residents who can get vaccinated but the federal government is allotting the state only 300,000 does a week.

The CDC also recommends making vaccines available to people who are immunocompromised, but the agency did not elaborate, and that can include many conditions, Cuomo said.

The governor liked it to the Biblical story of miraculously feeding a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fishes and said the state will do its best.

“We receive 300,000 dosages per week. That has not changed. The federal government didn’t give us an additional allocation. That’s 300,000 per week. How do you effectively serve 7 million people all of whom are now eligible, without any priority?”

Cuomo said test results and hospitalizations from Monday suggested a leveling off after the holidays.

The statewide positive-test rate stood at 7.73%, and in the Mohawk Valley it was 9.51% over the previous week, highest in the state. Oneida County’s rate stood Tuesday at 8.5% after a daily rate Monday of 6%.

Oneida County received 1,300 COVID-19 vaccine does on Tuesday, according to the staff of County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. The doses will be distributed at the county’s vaccine site at the Mohawk Valley Community College main campus in Utica. The county has received 4,300 doses so far.

Appointments at the county site are booked through Friday but eligible residents may check for openings through the links at www.ocgov.net. Visitors might experience periodic outages and error messages due to an overload of requests to the New York State Department of Health website which serves as the portal to direct appointment scheduling.

The county is working on expanding distribution site locations to other parts of the county and will announce when available.

“We will continue to deliver every dose in our possession to our residents as quickly and efficiently as possible as we await further shipments," Picente said.

The county has distributed 1,127 vaccines at the MVCC site so far, including 247 on Monday.

Vaccines are also being given at Rome Memorial Hospital, the Mohawk Valley Health System hospitals, and through pharmacies, urgent care centers and clinics. However, MVHS said it used its current vaccine allotments and asked for patience and suggested directing questions to the state hotline at 833-697-4829. “It is difficult to schedule appointments without knowing when vaccines will arrive. We’re asking our community members to be patient with the new and evolving vaccination process,” said Caitlin McCann, MVHS vice president for marketing and communications.

Through the 24 hours that ended at midnight Monday, Oneida County reported 200 new positive tests for COVID-19, for 6,592 known active cases. Seven COVID-related deaths were reported, following a record eight on Sunday.

In addition, 178 county residents with COVID were hospitalized, including 25 in intensive care. Among those hospitalized, 10 were at Rome Memorial, 155 at MVHS and 13 out of the county.

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