CDC: COVID-19 Vaccine Should be Available to 65 Plus / 8 More Strains of UK Strain Found in New York State
NY Governor Cuomo responded today to the CDC’s advisement that the COVID-19 Vaccine be made available to those aged 65 and older and those who are immune-compromised.
The Governor stated that those 65 plus would immediately be eligible for the vaccine. He also raised concerns over the definition of immuno-compromised since the definition could be wide-ranging.
Yesterday was the beginning phase 1b of the vaccination program during which vaccinations were opened to those 75 and older as well as essential workers. On that first day of phase 1b, clarification as to those eligible for vaccination under 1b was announced.
In addition, the Governor said that 8 additional cases of the UK Strain of Coronavirus has been found. When he last spoke of this, on January 9, there were only 55 cases in the United States according to the Governor.
“It’s up to 12 cases in New York,” said Mr. Cuomo. “We found eight more cases, so we have 12 in New York and we have 80 in the country.”
The following video features Governor Cuomo’s statement audio followed by the related transcript.
Governor Cuomo today:
“The CDC made another change in the vaccine policy. Seems change is constant with the CDC and I’ll tell you the truth I’m looking forward to the incoming administration to get ahold of this because this federal policy is making it extraordinarily difficult.
The CDC just announced that states should open up vaccines to 65-plus. This is another major change in a very short period of time. It’s not just 65-plus. They suggest we open it up to 65-plus and immunocompromised and they don’t define immunocompromised. Immunocompromised is a category that can be defined a number of ways Obviously it’s people with cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, obesity can be considered immunocompromised, pregnancy, sickle cell, smoking can classify a person as immunocompromised, type 2 diabetes is immunocompromised, asthma, so that has to be defined.
But just so we understand what’s happening now, the federal guidance started with prioritizing health care workers which made sense because if nurses and doctors get sick then the hospitals collapse and that’s what we’re looking at as a worst case scenario around the country. That’s California. That was Italy at one time, and if a nurse or doctor gets sick, they come in contact with a lot of people, they can be a super spreader, and for us keeping the economy open is all about the hospital capacity.
The prioritization for the health care workers then melted into prioritization for essential workers, police, fire, et cetera. That then morphed into prioritization for 75-plus because they have the highest rate of mortality and that now morphs into 65-plus and immunocompromised.
Just to give you an idea of what that now does. That is a population of 7 million New Yorkers. 1A was 2.1. 1B was 3.2. You just added 1.8. The immunocompromised number we don’t even have yet because it depends on how you define it, but you have a population that’s eligible now of about 7 million.
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?
So in other words if I’m 90 years old, I’m in the same class as a person who is 65-plus. If I’m 90 years old and I have cancer and heart disease, I’m in the same category as a person who is 65-plus.
Nurses and doctors who still haven’t been vaccinated, and there is hundreds of thousands who haven’t been vaccinated are now in the category of 7 million, so the policy and the intelligence of the federal system alludes me. But we will do the best we can but this is a – I happen to be Christian – loaves and fishes situation. 7 million eligible people, 300,000 dosages per week, and 7 million people who desperately want the vaccine quickly.
Now we’ve open up the largest distribution system ever operated in the State of New York. All the pharmacies, and there are thousands of pharmacies that are coming up to speed, and State-operated sites, and county-operated sites, and doctors’ offices, and federally qualified health centers, so, and the unions of the essential workers have been very helpful. A lot of the teachers’ unions are self-administering, police are self-administering, firefighters are self-administering. So the entire distribution system is open. But at the end of the day you only have 300,000 dosages for a population of 7 million on the other side. I said in the State of the State patience – we need patience at an impatient time in history.
This compounds the request for patience because how do you say on one hand 7 million people are eligible and then on the other hand say we only have 300,000 dosages per week?
But there will be a new federal government and the new federal government at the top of the list has to be increasing the priority of production of dosages. You need more vaccine, whether it’s Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, or they no longer stockpile the second does and they release the second dose – those are all decisions they have to make, but they have to make those decisions.
They did a webinar here. I did a message on the webinar. The priority is open, 1A, 1B, and now 65-plus, and we have to put out a list of what’s immunocompromised but within the distribution network, the hospitals and the country departments of health, I’m sorry, the hospitals have to continue to prioritize hospital workers because our number one risk is still collapse of the hospital system. That is our number one risk and we’re seeing it in states all across the nation and we are balancing on the head of a pin our hospital capacity.
This U.K. strain is the X factor. I’ll get to that in a second, but if that U.K. strain increases the infection rate the way they expect and the way we are seeing, we’re going to overwhelm the hospital system.
The biggest capacity element in the hospital system is we’re losing staff. We’re losing staff because the staff is getting sick from COVID. That’s why continued prioritization of the hospital staff is key and in the webinar we said hospitals must continue to prioritize hospital staff.
The county health departments should focus on the essential workers, police, fire, et cetera. That’s who they deal with. City health departments and pharmacies, the general public because they’re best equipped to handle the general public. Remember, pharmacies do the flu vaccine. Fifty percent of New Yorkers take the flu vaccine, but pharmacies have these, are accustomed to scheduling vaccines and dealing with the public and now there’s going to be a massive number of public between 75-plus and now 65-plus. But that we’re going to have to do. So, focus on the populations especially doctors, nurses so we don’t overwhelm the hospitals.
The U.K. strain is the x factor. The federal government, CDC says the reason they’re moving up the population to 65-plus is because they’re afraid of the U.K. strain. Again, if you don’t have the vaccines to give them, I don’t know what opening up the eligibility does, but U.K. strain nationwide is up to 80 cases and this again, is just a situation that did not have to develop.
The United States did not ban or test people from the U.K. even though 120 other countries did. When you don’t close the front door, don’t be surprised when you have the U.K. strain here. It’s now up to 80 cases nationwide. It’s up to 12 cases in New York. We found eight more cases, so we have 12 in New York and we have 80 in the country and that is what’s panicking the federal officials with good reason because this is a much higher rate of infection.”