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NY State Launches COVID Vaccination Campaign for More 12-17 Teenagers

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This story was told by Matthew Chayes, Lisa L. Colangelo and Bart Jones. It was written by Jones.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Wednesday a campaign to increase voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations for people ages 12-17, but said she was open to making vaccinations mandatory for this group.

Vaccination rates in this age group are lagging behind – only about 50% are fully vaccinated, the governor said, and the state safety campaign “Vax to School” aims to improve this through voluntary compliance.

She didn’t rule out making this mandatory, although she noted that many parents would be nervous about it.

When asked at a press conference whether it would require COVID-19 vaccinations for school-age children, as is the case with other diseases such as measles and chickenpox, Hochul said, “This is certainly an option, but I am also aware that this is something that parents are very, very concerned about. “

She added, “I want to encourage parents to understand the science and data that should lead them to the same conclusion we all have – that this is the best thing you can do for your child, if you can before want to protect this virus. “

Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell Health’s chief medical officer, said it was unclear what impact the new government campaign could have, but eventually, more and more people are likely to be injecting their children – whether voluntarily or by order.

“I can’t say a social media campaign or anything else isn’t helpful, it could be,” Battinelli told Newsday on Wednesday. “But we have entered a new phase. We are back in school and you have a number of mandates.”

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Battinelli said some people might initially resist mandatory vaccination and eventually stick to it. But not every.

“I think the most interesting thing for everyone is how many people at some point don’t stick to it and are willing to walk away from anything from a Yankees game or a Knicks game to eating at a certain restaurant or even quitting a job.” , he said.

As parents became more familiar with information about vaccine safety, Battinelli believes they will vaccinate their children to avoid serious illness or exclusion from school.

“If you study the history of vaccines, that’s exactly what happens every time,” he said.

Vaxmobile shoots at teenagers

Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Vaxmobile has vaccinated nearly 6,000 people in the past five months, hospital spokesman Joe Calderone said Wednesday.

A focus of the mobile vaccination center was middle and high schools in Elmont, Freeport, Baldwin, Rockville Center and Long Beach.

“We have had great success working with the leadership of these school districts,” said Calderone. “We bring them the vaccines and make it as easy as possible for them.”

The Vaxmobile returns to the sites three weeks later to provide the second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is currently the only one for 12-15 year olds.

When asked what schools and communities could and should do to increase the vaccination rate among adolescents and whether the counties should request state aid, the superintendent associations did not respond directly.

In a joint statement from their external public relations agency, Syntax, the associations said: “School districts will continue to be resources for the community under the direction of health and county officials.”

District chairwoman Laura Curran said in a statement sent by staff that Nassau had launched a student vaccination initiative that vaccinated thousands of eligible students. The initiative also trained youth ambassadors to support and encourage their peers to roll up their sleeves.

In a statement from the Suffolk Department of Health, broadcast by Derek Poppe, a spokesman for county executive Steve Bellone, officials said: “To increase vaccination rates among eligible school-age children, we have encouraged school districts to let us know if they have one Would like to partner with us to provide vaccination clinics for their students. To date, we’ve made vaccination clinics possible in a dozen school districts. ”

Few “breakthrough infections” in NY

Hochul said on Wednesday that so-called breakthrough infections of fully vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 are extremely rare in New York, according to the data.

Only 0.5% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 belong to people who are fully vaccinated, she said. And of those fully vaccinated, only 0.04% end up in a hospital for the virus.

“It’s still a rarity,” she said, although people should continue to wear masks when needed and wash their hands frequently to help slow the spread of the virus.

The state is also preparing to give people a third shot – or a “booster” – eight months after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, she said.

She expects the vaccine to be available in sufficient quantities – unlike earlier this year when COVID shots first became available – and said counties would set up mass distribution centers unless they wanted help from the state.

Overall, the state is doing pretty well in adults, with 81% of people over the age of 18 getting at least one syringe and 73% getting both syringes, Hochul said.

“This is very good news,” she said.

About 61% of people ages 12 to 17 have had at least one injection, she said.

The “Vax to School” program will include a digital campaign using Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to encourage young people to take their pictures, she said.

COVID prep in NYC schools

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he doesn’t expect COVID-19 to cause disruption this school year, which begins Monday. He mentioned the compulsory vaccination of school staff, the vaccination of two-thirds of the city’s 12 to 17-year-olds, and methods of disinfection and air purification in the city’s more than 1,400 school buildings.

“This will be one of those groundbreaking days, one of those days that we will remember when we turn the corner on COVID,” said de Blasio at his daily press conference at City Hall.

The school’s chancellor, Meisha Ross Porter, promised that “every building is the gold standard for health and safety”. The workers “check every room to make sure it can bring in fresh air and remove old air. They make sure schools have PPE and signs are available to help students, ”she said.

Porter said 72% of teachers had been vaccinated and 65% of students between 12 and 17 had received at least one dose.

Kevin Moran, their school operations manager, said the airflow system of every school building had been inspected and approved by outside engineers. Windows are open as wide as possible, especially in older buildings built years ago after past pandemics. There are filters for the Minimum Efficiency Report Value (MERV) in buildings with HVAC systems. CO2 testers and anemometers are used to measure airflow. There will be electrostatic sprayers to sanitize the building on a regular basis, as well as a 30-day supply of PPE at each school in case students need to mask.

De Blasio said the city is still negotiating with the teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers, about exemptions from the vaccination mandate.

COVID-19 indicators continued to tick on Long Island and across New York state in the data released on Wednesday.

The seven-day average for positivity on tests rose to 4.40% on Long Island, while the national average rose to 3.34%.

The number of newly confirmed cases was 313 in Nassau County, 437 in Suffolk County and 1,396 in New York City.

Hospital admissions for people with COVID-19 rose 59 across the country to 2,415.

Across the state, 31 people died from causes related to the virus on Tuesday, including one in Nassau and two in Suffolk.

“We’re watching the numbers like a hawk and as infections and other key metrics rise, we know what it takes to push the virus back,” Hochul said in a statement. “We have to double the basic safety measures like wearing our masks, washing hands, social distancing – and we have to get everyone vaccinated.”

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