This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Matthew Chayes, Scott Eidler, Laura Figueroa Hernandez, Bart Jones and David Reich-Hale. It was written by Jones.
Long Island kicked into high gear Thursday with COVID-19 vaccinations for the newest eligible group — children ages 12 to 15.
Nassau County officials, along with leaders of local hospitals, staged events where some of the first Long Islanders in that group got their shots.
"Being able to vaccinate a new age group gets us even closer to beating this virus," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 to 15, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its OK Wednesday. Hours later, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo added state approval.
What to know
Nassau County officials, along with leaders of local hospitals, staged events Thursday where some of the first Long Islanders ages 12 to 15 got their shots.
The FDA on Monday approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 to 15, and the CDC gave its OK Wednesday. Hours later, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo added his state's approval.
COVID-19 indicators continued to drop statewide in data released Thursday, hitting lows not seen in months. And the CDC relaxed some mask and social distancing rules.
Meanwhile, key COVID-19 statistics continued to fall statewide on Thursday. And in a big step toward restoring pre-pandemic life, the CDC relaxed mask rules and social distancing requirements for fully vaccinated Americans in most indoor and outdoor settings.
On Long Island, a "vaxmobile" started giving the Pfizer vaccine to some of the newly eligible youths Thursday afternoon at St. Mary of the Isle Roman Catholic Church in Long Beach.
The vehicle, operated by Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital, was to head Friday afternoon to the De La Salle School in Freeport, where some in the same age group will receive the shot.
Curran attended an event Thursday at Nassau Community College in Garden City, where some of the newly eligible, as young as 12, began getting Pfizer shots. The county is partnering with Northwell Health for the four-day "student vaccination" event at the college.
Nassau officials said they are accepting 500 high school students a day through Sunday. Eligible youths can sign up on the county's website, or walk in.
New York City also started vaccinating those in the newly eligible age group on Thursday, Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.
Some 'on the fence'
While large health systems and elected officials were touting the expanded age group, area pharmacists said their customers were still nervous.
Nidhin Mohan, who owns New Island Pharmacy in Deer Park and co-owns West Islip Pharmacy in West Islip, said his customers are "on the fence" and looking for vaccine safety data.
"I give them the data that's available so far, but I don't push parents," he said. "I understand the apprehension. I'm in the business of providing information, so they can make an educated decision. Every day, more parents are asking about vaccinations in kids."
Mohan added that he hasn’t carried the Pfizer version of the vaccine because initially the storage requirements were stricter.
The Pfizer vaccine had to be stored in ultra-cold temperatures that many independent pharmacies couldn’t afford.
"Ever since then, the state has just sent us the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson version of the vaccine," he said.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only version currently approved in the United States for people younger than 18.
Separately, Moderna last week said its vaccine was 96% effective with 12- to 17-year-olds, according to a trial it conducted with more than 3,200 participants. Moderna and Pfizer also are conducting studies for children younger than 12.
Curran on Thursday also encouraged homebound seniors to schedule appointments for county police medics to come to their home to issue the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"We want to make sure everyone has a shot at getting a shot," she said at a news conference in Mineola.
Homebound seniors can make an appointment by calling the county’s senior hotline at 516-227-9590.
Statistics continue to fall in NY
COVID-19 indicators continued to drop statewide in data released Thursday, hitting lows not seen in months.
The statewide seven-day average of positive results in tests from Wednesday was 1.25%, the lowest figure since Oct. 22. The average was 1.10% on Long Island and 1.07% in New York City.
The daily figure for positive test results statewide was 1.08%.
Across the state, 22 people died Wednesday of causes linked to the virus, including one in Nassau and two in Suffolk.
Hospitalizations statewide fell by 76 patients to 1,852, the lowest level since Nov. 14, the governor's office said.
The number of new confirmed cases was 107 in Nassau, 123 in Suffolk, and 855 in New York City.
More incentives in NYC
In the latest attempt to lure New Yorkers to get vaccinated, the coronavirus shot now comes with a future side of fries and a hamburger, and a chance to win concert tickets, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
The food would be from Shake Shack, the tickets would be to Global Citizen Live and the Governors Ball.
Those who are already vaccinated can show their vaccine card in exchange for a free side order of fries.
Earlier in the week, de Blasio announced that the city would give gift cards redeemable to public markets to those who agree to be vaccinated.
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