With scholarships, Hochul steps up efforts to vaccinate youngsters in NY
This story was reported by Rachelle blidner, Matthieu chayes and Lisa L. Colangelo. It was written by Colangelo.
The state is stepping up efforts to get younger New Yorkers more vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering a chance to get full college scholarships to CUNY and SUNY schools, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday.
The scholarships will go to the 50 winners of a lottery open to children aged 5 to 11 who will be vaccinated between Nov. 22 and Dec. 20, Hochul said at an event in Mount Vernon.
“There are two great gifts you can give your children: one is the gift of good health and that is what they will get when they receive the vaccine, and the second is the chance to get that full scholarship, ”the governor said.
Earlier this year, the Cuomo administration oversaw a similar program offering scholarships to vaccinated teens in the 12 to 17 age group.
Hochul said the state has more than 700,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for children – enough to immunize half of the population in the 5 to 11 age group.
“We already have the doses ready to administer and we are ready to get more of them as soon as we need them,” she said.
An incentive for parents
Of all New Yorkers, Hochul said, 75% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Dr Aaron Glatt, director of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, said he hopes the scholarship lottery will encourage more parents to get their children vaccinated.
“I’m in favor of almost anything that will get people to get vaccinated,” Glatt said. “It is the opinion of most experts in the field that the more people we vaccinate, the more likely we can prevent the development of resistant variant strains and, more importantly, prevent disease and death in the general population. “
What there is to know
- The state is offering a full scholarship chance to children who receive the COVID-19 vaccine between November 22 and December 20.
- Governor Kathy Hochul said the state has more than 700,000 doses of the vaccine for children – enough to immunize half of the population in the 5 to 11 age group.
- Suffolk County on Tuesday opened a vaccination clinic inside the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge, targeting children between the ages of 5 and 17.
As of Monday, 4,108 new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported to the state, including 215 in Nassau County and 257 in Suffolk County. The statewide daily positivity rate, based on 115,506 test results, was 3.56%. The seven-day average of new positive cases across the state was less than 2.65%, and the seven-day average on Long Island was 2.50%.
State officials said there were 36 deaths from COVID-19 in New York City on Monday. None have been recorded in the counties of Nassau or Suffolk.
Authorities in Long Island and New York find ways to get more young people vaccinated against the virus
Suffolk County officials on Tuesday opened a vaccination clinic inside the H. Lee Dennison building in Hauppauge, targeting children between the ages of 5 and 17. COVID-19 vaccines will be administered free of charge, with the clinic operating after school hours and on weekends.
“We encourage parents to get their children vaccinated and we want to make things as easy as possible,” Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Director, said at a press conference in the county building.
The Bellona office did not immediately have figures on the number of children vaccinated in Suffolk County.
Nassau County officials also did not have these statistics, saying the state generally tracks this information.
In response to a request from Newsday, the state did not immediately release the number of children vaccinated in the age group.
In New York City, 4,500 shots were administered Monday in public schools to children aged 5 to 11, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio. In total, around 25,000 children in the city have so far received their first dose of the vaccine, in places such as doctors’ offices, the mayor said.
Bellone said the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 has made her son Michael eligible and that he will be vaccinated “in the near future.”
The two older children in the county executive have already received the blow. Having all his children vaccinated will give the family “confidence” and offer additional protections to Bellone’s 80-year-old mother, he said.
“It could save the life of a child or loved one in your family who is vulnerable, older or has underlying health issues,” Bellone said of childhood immunizations.
Thousands of children vaccinated
Over the past weekend, more than 10,000 eligible children were reportedly vaccinated against COVID-19 on Long Island, according to an estimate by Dr. Matthew Harris, medical director of the vaccination program at Northwell Health. Harris provided the data Tuesday afternoon during a Newsday Live webinar.
“I think we are well advanced in the vaccination program – even only four or five days after,” he said.
In a later interview, Harris said he based the estimate on his knowledge of vaccination programs in peer health systems on the island. At the Northwell mass vaccination sites – in Bohemia, Riverhead and New Hyde Park – approximately 1,100 children in the 5-11 age group have been vaccinated. That figure does not include vaccinations given, for example, in private doctor’s offices or pharmacies, Harris said.
Suffolk County Police Officer Tom Arana-Wolfe, a School Resources Officer for the Town of Huntington, spoke at the Bellona press conference, saying his family were “very happy” that his 6-year-old daughter Violet can get a full vaccine in time for Christmas so they can visit older relatives.
Violet was vaccinated Thursday morning before school. The needle “didn’t hurt” and it “was running all over the place” that day, Arana-Wolfe said.
Violet was “a little tired” the next day but had no other side effects and was able to go to school.
The family’s experience also helped alleviate the concerns of other parents in their social circle, Arana-Wolfe said. He encouraged other families to share their experiences with friends and relatives in order to reduce the reluctance to get vaccinated.
“We had a birthday party with seven year olds and snakes. The scariest part is that the parents asked us how the shooting went,” he said. “They were relieved. They are feeling better and are now going to make their appointments because they knew someone who went through it and that was not all they were worried about.”
The county’s free vaccination site will operate Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dennison Building, 100 Veterans Memorial Hwy. at Hauppauge. Thursday, Veterans Day, the site will operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bellone said. A parent or legal guardian must accompany minors and complete a form certifying that their child is eligible for shooting.
Appointments will be accepted but appointments are encouraged. Residents can make an appointment by calling 311 in Suffolk or at suffolkcountyny.gov/vaccine.
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