DOH wants to increase New York’s COVID vaccination rate

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New York’s top doctor is concerned about the state’s low vaccination rate of 9.3 percent of the latest Covid-19 vaccine. According to the state health department.

That’s more than 70% of New Yorkers vaccinated against the coronavirus by the summer of 2021, or seven months after the vaccine first became available, compared to more than 9% of today’s rates and 25% of nursing home residents.

“I’m the doctor of the state. I want the best for everybody — I’m concerned,” DOH Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said Monday. “I don’t want people to miss the holidays. I want people to have fun. I don’t want people to be sick and I don’t want people to be in the hospital. So I want them to get Covid. Vaccination.”

MacDonald said that in the four years since the world’s first confirmed upper respiratory illness, people have become accustomed to the coronavirus, leading to lower vaccination rates and people protected by recent mutations. He added that the availability of oral prescription drugs such as paxlovide to treat Covid symptoms has also affected the urgency with which people get vaccinated.

McDonald’s has signed a standing order allowing anyone who is eligible for the Covid or RSV vaccinations to come in and get a shot at participating pharmacies. New Yorkers age 60 and older with co-morbidities are eligible to receive the RSV vaccine, or about 2.4 million people in the state.

MacDonald said the department would promote the vaccine now through early 2024, with the latest Covid vaccine offering the greatest protection against serious infections, hospitalizations or death.

“I think a lot of this is people just need to talk to their health care providers if they have questions, but I think people really need to look at what’s going on around them,” McDonald said. “It’s still a threat. If you don’t vaccinate, you might as well take care and do it before the holidays.”

Forty-one New Yorkers died last week from complications related to the Covid-19 infection. According to the state health department. McDonald’s announced that about 1,200 New Yorkers have been infected so far, less than half the number of people who have been hospitalized for severe Covid infections.

Unvaccinated people are also more likely to have long-term exposure to Covid-19 or the physical and mental effects of the virus.

Maya McNulty of Schenectady County has battled the long-term effects of Covid since spring 2020, including chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment, palpitations, tremors and more.

She spent weeks in a coma and on a ventilator, and has since learned to eat, walk and talk. But more questions remain than answers about long-term Covid.

“I’m not sure why some people are better than others,” McNulty said. Capital tonight. “It’s kind of a mystery. It’s a long Covid mystery.”

She is pushing state and federal lawmakers to improve resources for covid-related illnesses and mental health conditions.

While state health experts are encouraging New Yorkers to be proactive about the virus, lawmakers say they are not done fighting its long-term effects.

Member of Parliament Angelo Santabarbara said he would fight. To include a scholarship fund New Yorkers who have had a parent, caregiver or sibling die or become disabled due to Covid-19 in the next budget.

Lawmakers haven’t decided how much the fund should be, but the Assembly Speaker said those details would come later.

“The important thing this bill does is put it in place,” Santa Barbara continued. “And maybe it’s funding that can continue down the road to make sure we’re talking to these families.”

Santa Barbara said about 15,000 children in New York have lost a parent or had a parent become disabled after a Covid infection.

He said he would push hard to find the money in the next budget, regardless of the projected $4.3 billion deficit in the fiscal year.

“It’s going to be a tough year, but this is an important issue,” he said. “We’re trying to help families, we’re trying to support families. That’s something we can’t forget. We can’t forget about the families that have suffered tremendous losses. … As a country, we have enough in the budget. Where we can do things like this.”



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