On Sunday Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new guidance for allowing pharmacies to vaccinate New Yorkers with comorbidities. Pharmacies were previously able to vaccinate New Yorkers over the age of 60 and teachers.
“New Yorkers with comorbidities are among our state’s most at-risk residents, and access to the COVID-19 vaccine protects this vulnerable population as we work to defeat the virus and establish the new normal,” Governor Cuomo said. “As New York receives more doses and more people receive the vaccine, we’re able to expand the population pharmacies can serve, and this is a commonsense step forward that will help make it easier to protect New Yorkers.”
New Yorkers with comorbidities or underlying health conditions can use the following to show they are eligible:
- Doctor’s letter, or
- Medical information evidencing comorbidity, or
- Signed certification
New Yorkers age 16 and older with the following conditions are eligible for vaccines due to increased risk of moderate or severe illness or death from the virus that causes COVID-19:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
On March 9, Cuomo announced that with increased supply of the vaccine, restrictions concerning which segments of the eligible population specific providers can vaccinate will be relaxed to align with the expanded eligibility beginning March 17. Previously, certain types of providers were directed to focus their vaccination efforts on specific populations to ensure equitable vaccine distribution. For example, hospitals vaccinated health care workers, local health departments vaccinated essential workers and pharmacies vaccinated New Yorkers 65 years of age and older. As part of this effort, providers are being encouraged to vaccinate those New Yorkers most at risk, such as individuals 60 years of age and older and people with comorbidities and underlying health conditions. Today’s announcement further builds on those efforts.
New York State has continued to expand eligibility to the COVID-19 vaccine and establish mass vaccination sites and pop-up sites to distribute it. Governor Cuomo previously announced that beginning March 10, all New Yorkers 60 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine, while public facing essential workers from governmental and nonprofit entities became eligible beginning March 17. This expansion also includes public-facing essential building services workers.
On March 17, the Governor announced appointments are open at 10 new state-run mass vaccination sites across the state. On March 18, Governor Cuomo announced 16 community-based pop-up vaccination sites are coming online over the next week at churches, public housing developments and community centers. These sites are expected to vaccinate more than 4,500 people throughout the week.