More than 70% of Long Islanders are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 according to statistics released by the state on Sunday.
Figures show 1,990,023 Long Islanders are fully vaccinated out of a population of 2,839,436. There are 998,557 fully vaccinated people in Nassau County and 991,466 fully vaccinated people in Suffolk County, as of 11 a.m. Sunday, according to the state.
But health experts have said a larger swath of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to gain the upper hand on the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly-contagious delta variant of the virus.
Key to expanding that number is getting more 5 to 11-year-olds vaccinated. Just last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on allowing this younger population to receive a smaller dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
"The weather is getting colder, and friends and family will be spending more time indoors, increasing the risk of transmission and threatening the incredible progress we’ve made so far," Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement on Sunday. "The vaccine is the way out of this pandemic, and I encourage parents and guardians to please get your children vaccinated soon so we can all enjoy the holidays safely this year."
CVS said it started inoculating 5 to 11-year olds in 126 select pharmacy locations in New York on Sunday.
And some pediatrician offices on Long Island have reported working later hours and weekends to vaccinate their young patients.
Allied Physicians Group, a Melville-based partnership of 180 pediatric providers has scheduled a large vaccination event for Nov. 13-14 at Coleman Country Day Camp in Freeport and Crestwood Country Day Camp in Melville. Officials have said they hope to vaccinate up to 1,000 children each day.
Health experts have said while the 70% bench mark is a positive step, it’s not enough to end the epidemic.
"It’s good progress, but it certainly doesn’t mean herd immunity," Dr. David Battinelli, vice president and chief medical officer at Northwell Health, told Newsday on Friday. "I think most people believe that true herd immunity is not til 90-plus percent."
There were 4,603 new cases of COVID-19 reported to the state on Saturday, statistics show, including 208 in Nassau County and 327 in Suffolk County.
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams told CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday he hoped the city could eventually lift a mask mandate for public school students now that children as young as 5 are eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
"I think it’s imperative that we can find a safe way to do it," Adams said when asked if he planned to lift the mask mandates this school year. "I look forward to getting rid of the masks. But it must be done with the science."
Adams said he believed allowing school children to attend classes without a mask is important to their social development.
"When I go visit schools, not being able to see the smiles on the children, I believe that has an impact," Adams said.
Adams, who was elected mayor on Tuesday, told reporters last week that he planned to "revisit" the vaccine mandates on city employees implemented by outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city’s municipal unions have protested the requirements, but last week four of the largest unions reached a deal with de Blasio to drop their lawsuits seeking to block the mandates in exchange for concessions made to those seeking religious and medical exemptions.
On Sunday, the city announced 93% of its workforce has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Vaccine mandates work," de Blasio said in a statement. "With 93% of the city’s workforce vaccinated, the best workforce in the world is leading the way in keeping our community safe and ending this pandemic. And we’re not done yet."
Asked if he would fire thousands of city employees who have not gotten vaccinated, Adams said "I believe in the mandates, let’s be clear on that," but added the city should look closely at the reasons some are seeking an exemption to the mandate.
"Some are legitimate issues," Adams said, citing the case of a woman who never vaccinated her children for religious reasons. "If there are real health care issues, real religious exemptions. We need to look at that."
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