COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to 16 and over in NY

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A nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. The Vaxmobile, is a COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit, sponsored by a partnership between Mount Sinai South Nassau and Town of Hempstead to bring the one-dose vaccine directly to hard-hit communities in the area. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK – New Yorkers over 16 years old can sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Tuesday, a major expansion of eligibility as the state seeks to immunize as many people as possible.

The State University of New York also announced plans to offer vaccines to tens of thousands of college students before they head home for the summer.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded eligibility to 30 and over last week and announced that people aged 16 to 29 would be eligible starting April 6.

Teens aged 16 and 17 will be limited to receiving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, since that is the only one that has been authorized for use by people under 18. Parental consent will be required for vaccinations of 16- and 17-year-olds at state-run sites, with certain exceptions including for teens who are married or are parents.

None of the available vaccines have yet been approved for people under 16.

New York state health officials hope that increased eligibility will help cut down COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations — particularly among millennials and Generation Xers.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is down in New York to 4,400, down from about 8,600 in early January.

But since mid-March, the number of new COVID-19 cases has ticked up and hospitalizations have plateaued. And more young people with COVID-19 are now landing in New York hospitals, according to state Department of Health data provided to The Associated Press: 1,146 patients with COVID-19 as of Sunday were between the ages of 20 to 54, up from 986 — a 16% increase — in early March.