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New York Expanding COVID Vaccine Eligibility To Ages 60 And Older

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More than 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed in New York state in the past seven days.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the vaccine supply from the government will not be smooth. It will ebb and flow.

But for right now, it's on the uptick, and that's good news, CBS2's Dick Brennan reported.

"If the supply is increasing, we can then increase our distribution levels," Cuomo said.


Because there will be more vaccine to go around, the governor has lowered the age for eligibility for the vaccine, from 65 and older to 60 and older. Appointments can be made starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

Starting March 17, all sites can vaccinate anyone who is eligible. Regardless if you go to a county- or city-run site or anywhere else, you can get the COVID-19 shot.

But there is one exception. Pharmacies will only be administering shots to those 60 and older, and teachers.

"Why? Because the pharmacies, it's not as easy for them to identify different types of workers, etc. They can identify age cause because age you can identify by just a driver's license, and President Biden, rightfully so, has made teachers a priority," Cuomo said.

The governor also said that beginning March 17 public-facing employees will become eligible, including government workers, nonprofit workers, and essential building service workers.

"These are the people who are the everyday heroes, who are out there doing their jobs. They are putting themselves in possible position of exposure," Cuomo said.

Some New Yorkers hope the eligibility expansion will make getting a vaccine easier.

"I got high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes," said Upper Manhattan resident Jenny Sabat.

Despite her health challenges, she still can't get a vaccine appointment. She hopes that will change now.

"I hope so," she said.

"Me, myself, I'm over 60, so I think this is the best thing goes," said Kevin Porter, of the Upper West Side.

The governor said COVID-19 has hit the the Black and Latino communities much harder than others, adding those populations have had less trust in the vaccine, and the system as a whole.

He invited pastors to make the case to get a shot.

"About the symptoms or the side effects, I said to my congregation, I would rather have a side effect then have to go to the cemetery," said Rev. Decarto Draper of Tucker Missionary Baptist Church in Syracuse. "And my prayer is if you are not going to take the vaccine, please don't talk other people against it."


There are some safety concerns, however.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that overweight and obese people should be prioritized to get the vaccine because they are more likely to get seriously ill.

Another baffling question -- why are some women  getting more vaccine side effects than men? They are mild, including aches, chills and fever.

It's no fun, but it's still a much better option than getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Many women, like Susan Gamiee, of Greenwich Village, who was vaccinated at Javits, says it's no problem.

"How was it, getting it? For people who are afraid?" CBS2's Dick Brennan asked.

"There is nothing to be afraid of, and it was brilliantly organized here and everybody was very kind," Gamiee said.

So far, 19% of New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and nearly 10% have been completely vaccinated.

Across the U.S., there are concerns that states may be opening too quickly. Texas is set to reopen Wednesday. All businesses, including restaurants, will be able to operate at 100% capacity.

Masks are still mandatory in California, where an Uber driver who asked his passengers to comply was assaulted and coughed on.

The passengers even stole the man's phone, continued to berate him and ripped off his mask.

The driver says the group also pepper-sprayed him after they got out of the car. He believes the attack was racially motivated. Police are investigating.

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