New Yorkers with chronic illnesses they re-questioned for the Covid-19 vaccine flooded a state website and call center Sunday morning, leaving many unable to make appointments at mass vaccination centers right away.
State officials said Sunday that 73,000 appointments were scheduled from 11:30 a.m., while 500,000 people went through an online eligibility check tool that was required to make the appointment. Thousands were in virtual waiting rooms that can accommodate up to 8,000 people per vaccination station. Once these waiting rooms are full, people trying to make appointments will be encouraged to try again later.
Richard Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, said demand is high but "our infrastructure is up and running and intact." He said the state's ability to schedule appointments depends on vaccine supplies, which are steadily increasing.
Officials said the new criteria, which include chronic conditions like obesity and high blood pressure, made four million more New Yorkers eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine. They are joining a growing number of people in the state who are eligible for the vaccine despite inadequate supplies.
Eligible people now include adults with certain health issues that can increase their risk of serious illness or death from the coronavirus. Aside from obesity and high blood pressure, lung disease and cancer are other conditions that would qualify New Yorkers for the vaccine, Cuomo announced this month. He also made pregnancy a qualifying condition.
Appointments for people belonging to this group can be scheduled as early as Monday, although most people will likely have to wait a long time as vaccine doses are currently scarce. New Yorkers must provide evidence of their condition with a doctor's letter, signed certificate, or medical documentation, Cuomo said.
"While this is a huge step forward in ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to this life-saving vaccine, it's no secret that every time you deal with such a scarce resource there will be attempts to Committing fraud and gambling systems, ”said Mr Cuomo in a statement.
In New York state, about 10 percent of the population received the first dose, according to the New York Times. With the new criteria, approximately 11 million people in the state are now eligible, including people 65 and over, healthcare workers and teachers.
New York City recently opened mass vaccination sites at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and Citi Field in Queens to better reach communities affected by the virus. The state and federal government also announced last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be opening vaccination centers at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens.
To verify eligibility and make an appointment, New Yorkers can do a pre-screening on the state's website. You can also call the state vaccination hotline at 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829) for more information on vaccination appointments.