NEW YORK - A day after New York City officials urged adults to consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster, Gov. Kathy Hochul is also pushing for more New Yorkers to get that extra shot. The number of people testing positive each day for the virus has gone up 45% since Halloween so the governor now wants any adult of any age who is regularly in high-risk settings to get a booster.
"People who live in densely populated areas, people who live in apartment buildings, people taking public transportation — people have to analyze their own connection with other people," Hochul said. "If you're living alone, your risk is a lot lower than someone who's heading into the workplace, heading into other events."
The urgency comes as COVID-19 infections are increasing in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. At least four states and New York City are now in effect allowing everyone 18 and older to get a booster. It goes against current FDA guidelines, which recommend boosters only for senior citizens and others at high risk of infection but that could soon be changing. It now appears the CDC and FDA are poised to expand eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots to all adults. Doses could be available as early as this weekend.
"We are now at a point where we are more than six months out from most people having gotten their first dose," Dr. Stephanie Silvera, an epidemiologist, said. "We know that some of that vaccine protection does begin to wane and so by increasing the number of people who have that booster, especially going into the holidays, we can hopefully not have the same spike in cases that we saw last year."
Silvera, a professor of public health at Montclair State University, said federal health officials are taking their time in recommending all adults to get boosters because of wanting to really look at the data.
"I think some of the concern was, 'Does everybody really need the booster? Where is the science?'" she said. "We are increasingly finding out that those boosters are really helpful in bringing the vaccine efficacy back up to that 95[%] or higher rate and so I think that there was a certain level of concern around safety."
She also added that the CDC and FDA want to make sure that enough doses are available for everybody that needs them.
"We wanted to make sure that people who hadn't gotten their first dose still had the opportunity to get that first dose," Silvera said. "I think that we are now."
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul receives a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot at Binghamton University Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Johnson City, N.Y., Oct. 25, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Governor's Press Office)
The governor in essence is acknowledging that any adult could find themselves in a high-risk situation and therefore should get a booster, especially because New York state is considered to be an area of high transmission.
"If you personally feel that risk — and it'd be hard to imagine anybody who doesn't because you're among people, you're at work, you're sometimes in public transportation — you should be getting a booster shot now. I want to be crystal clear on that," Hochul said. "Everybody clear on that? You got the message. Get the booster."