When will booster eligibility expand in New York State?

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — COVID-19 booster dose rollout continues across the United States, but in the Empire State, there are different eligibility requirements depending on where residents live. In New York City, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi issued new guidance to health providers Monday saying all barriers to vaccination should be removed.

“New York City is in some ways is kind of like their own separate entity,” Steuben County Health Director Darlene Smith said.

The New York City Health Department functions independently of other state entities and is able to make its own guidance.

“New York City is under the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene umbrella. They are not under the State Department of Health umbrella. Chemung county is under the New York State Department of Health umbrella,” Chemung County Public Health Director Pete Buzzetti continued.

As for the New York State Department of Health, eligibility remains stagnant to people within four groups.

The CDC and New York State Department of Health recommend that certain individuals who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after their initial series get their “booster dose.” These individuals include those who are 65 years and older and individuals who are 18 and older who live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions, or who work or live in high-risk settings. Additionally, booster doses are recommended for all individuals 18 and older who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago.

New York Department of Health

Now, residents and county health officials wonder when eligibility will expand for the rest of the state. Both Smith and Buzzetti agree with the New York City Health Department in that the barriers to vaccination should be removed to allow all adults to receive their booster if they choose.

“I agree with the City Commissioner of Health. We should remove all barriers,” Buzzetti added.

California, Colorado, and New Mexico have also opened up boosters to all adults, leaving Smith to believe New York State will follow suit soon. Pfizer submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration asking for authorization of their booster for all adults, which experts are reviewing now.

“I think opening up eligibility across the board will be here sooner rather than later,” Smith told 18 News.

Local health officials say they would not be surprised if Southern Tier residents tried to get their boosters outside of the region. They say people traveled far and wide earlier this year to get the first doses when supply was limited.

“I would hope that no resident here would have to do that,” Buzzetti said.

Both Steuben and Chemung Counties are continuing their push to vaccinate residents and are holding several clinics within the coming weeks.

“The more we can administer, the quicker we’re going to get to the end of this,” Smith concluded.

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