The newest COVID-19 vaccine will be made available in New York starting Friday as the state sees a slight increase in case numbers and hospitalizations now three-and-and-half years after the pandemic began, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday.
“I know everyone wants to be done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us,” Hochul said at a briefing in New York City.
Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday endorsed the new shots for everyone 6 months of age and older. These newest shots replace combination vaccines that mixed protection against the original coronavirus strain and even older omicron variants. Like earlier versions, they're expected to be most protective against severe illness, hospitalization and death, rather than mild infection.
“It is literally a new vaccine. It is not a booster shot. It is not an enhancer. It is a new vaccine designed to attack the new variants,” Hochul said.
The new vaccine will be available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other health care providers on Friday.
“I’m calling on New Yorkers once again as we have many many times to take the right precautions and we can handle this. There’s no need to be careless. We have the tools we need,” Hochul said.
The governor said she is also reinforcing that nursing homes are required to make the new vaccine available for their residents and are responsible for stockpiling COVID-19 test kits, masks and PPE.
“The whole idea of dealing with this is to be pre-emptive,” Hochul said.
The state last week said it is also making rapid test kits and masks available to school districts and Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) if they request them as the new academic year gets underway.
“It’s our job to make sure that every school district has what they need to continue safe in-person learning," she said. "In-person learning because we’re still dealing with the fallout of what happened when children were disconnected from their normal environment, the effect it had on them emotionally, the effect it had on them academically, and they’re still far behind.”
As of now, New York is seeing a seven-day average of 14 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, higher than it was over the summer but still well below peak levels in the winters of 2021 and 2022.
“This is not the bad old days. At all. We don’t anticipate getting there. But shame on us if we don’t see the warnings,” Hochul said.
The governor said the current numbers do not "raise the red flag" for any potential return to certain pandemic-era restrictions at this time.