New York Opens COVID Vaccine Availability To All U.S. Residents Age 16 And Up

New York health officials have relaxed the state residency requirement for getting vaccinated for COVID-19 allowing non-residents over the age of 16 eligible to get a shot at a local site, according to updated vaccination guidelines released this week.

The state’s vaccination website now says “all individuals 16 years of age and older that reside in the United States are eligible to receive the vaccine.” Previously the state guidelines required non-residents to prove they worked or studied in New York.

Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio had proposed that the city offer vaccinations to visitors at popular tourist sites but noted the state would need to approve the plan. All city- and state-run vaccination sites are now open for walk-ins.

The state Department of Health also released updated guidelines for minors in anticipation that younger teens may soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, as the federal Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve Pfizer/BioNTech’s emergency use authorization application to vaccinate 12-15 year olds sometime next week.

Currently, all people over the age of 16 can get vaccinated, though Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized by the FDA for 16 and 17 year olds. Adults 18 years old and up can also get Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The updated state health guidelines released this week “strongly encourage” that parents or guardians accompany minors to get vaccinated. The vaccination sites must document the name of the adults providing consent, which can include verbal consent. The vaccination staff are asked to contact the parent or guardian of unaccompanied minors by phone before the vaccination, the state Department of Health said.

Parents and guardians can also send a written statement of consent if they are not available by phone, the Health Department said.

The majority of adult New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday, with 60% of people 18 and older now reporting receiving at least one dose.

The state administered more than a million doses over the past week.

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“The vaccine is the best weapon we have in our fight against COVID, and we all need to take it in order to finally defeat this beast,” Cuomo said in a statement Saturday. “With 60 percent of all adults and almost half of all eligible New Yorkers having received at least one dose, we continue to make remarkable progress as a state, but we cannot get lax. If you still need to get your shot, please do so quickly at one of our many sites across the state. Everyone who is 16 and older is eligible here in New York, and the vaccine is free, safe and effective.”

The state reported hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 dropped to 2,178 Friday, the lowest Since November 16th and a decrease of 551 patients over the past week. Of those patients, 544 were in intensive care units. Of the patients in ICUs, 344 were intubated. The state recorded 32 people who died of COVID-19 on Friday, including one person in the Bronx, six people in Brooklyn, two people in Manhattan, five people in Queens and one person on Staten Island.