Vaccine Distribution Expanded to Those At Risk

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York State expands as of Feb. 15, making a majority of Ulster Country eligible. Photo courtesy of NBC News.

As of Feb 15, the list of those eligible through phase 1b of the vaccine distribution has been expanded in the State of New York.

Those now eligible for the vaccine include any New Yorker over the age of 18 with the following conditions: cancer (either current or in remission), chronic kidney disease, heart disease, developmental disabilities, heart conditions, those who are immunocompromised, severe obesity, pregnancy, pulmonary disease (including moderate-to-severe asthma and cystic fibrosis), sickle cell disease, Type 1 and Type 2  diabetes, neurologic conditions and liver disease. 

The COVID-19 government-run website includes in the new list that eligibility is subject to change as evidence obtained by scientific studies is constantly changing as they are being published.

Starting on Feb.15,  Ulster County had 120,000 eligible residents which are over two-thirds of the county’s residents. However, the county has only received 12,000 doses from the state.

On Feb 11. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan outlined a plan that established a pre-registration and prioritization list for all residents eligible to receive the vaccine. 

Since the county has received a very limited supply of the vaccine, they will be prioritizing those most at risk. The Ulster County Department of Health (DOH) has created a prioritization list using CDC and New York State DOH guidance. 

The groups are divided by colors. Group red, group orange and group yellow. 

Residents over the age of 75 with a qualifying health condition, and 1B essential workers with an underlying condition are in group red and are estimated to be vaccinated by April. Orange includes residents ages 65 to 74 with an underlying health condition, and essential workers without an underlying health condition with an estimated vaccination time for June. Group Yellow includes adults (18+) with qualifying health conditions, and all people 65 + with an estimated time for vaccination of October.

New Paltz first-year undeclared student, Joe Matarazzo, became eligible for the vaccine on Feb. 15 because of his asthma. He was vaccinated on Feb.18, at Stony Brook University. 

Matarazzo made his appointment online through the New York State DOH’s website the same day he knew he was eligible and had a relatively easy experience securing an appointment.

“It said there were appointments available for Stony Brook, and then I was put into a ‘virtual line,’ before I was able to schedule it,” Matarazzo said.

Matarazzo was online for roughly 30 minutes, and when it was his turn to schedule his appointment there was a decent amount of appointment slots available. 

However, his father wasn’t as lucky; he waited about an hour and once it went through there were no appointments available

As of Feb 14, New York’s Health Care Distribution Sites have administered 89% of the first doses and 83% of first and second doses given to them by the federal government.

The federal government has increased the weekly supply of vaccines beginning Feb 14, and for the following three weeks. 

“With more than 10 million New Yorkers now eligible for the vaccine, we have the infrastructure in place to get it administered quickly and fairly but continue to only be held back by the supply,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press release on Feb. 14.“Thankfully, with real leadership now in Washington, we’ve begun to see that supply increase and expect that trend to continue until New York is COVID-free.”

However, the amount of people eligible and the total population in America still exceeds the amount of supply provided by the government.

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About Zoe Woolrich 45 Articles
Zoe Woolrich (she/her) is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oracle. Over the past four semesters she has served as Copy Editor, News Editor and Managing Editor. She is third-year media management major from New York City. You can contact her at woolricz1@newpaltz.edu.