ALBANY, N.Y. (UPDATED) – People with underlying health problems that can worsen the impact of COVID-19 can start getting vaccinated Feb. 15, but how do they prove they have a qualifying condition?
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday New Yorkers can present a doctor’s note, medical information or documentation showing evidence of their condition, or sign a certification stating they have a certain disease or health issue.
Local governments will define the exact criteria needed for proving an underlying health condition, and the state will audit the information using federal data from a system called Tiberius.
On Friday, the state said people with the following health conditions will qualify starting Feb. 15:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities including Down syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer's Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
New Yorkers with any of these health conditions can schedule appointments state-run mass vaccination sites, like SUNY Polytechnic Institute, starting Feb. 14. Cuomo says the counties will have to release information on when and how these populations can get vaccinated at local sites.
However, there are still a number of questions local county governments want to be answered specifically regarding the documentation required.
"The list out there for what the governor is requiring for comorbidities so that's already been established. But what type of documentation will be requested. We will just tighten that up a little today hopefully, said Oneida County Public Health Director Dan Gilmore.
Cuomo said the leftover vaccines from hospitals will be set aside for those with pre-existing conditions. Gilmore said both the county and MVHS have used all of their vaccines and there are no leftovers to give. He said the only way to better accommodate those people is to get more of the vaccine.
"When it comes to leftover vaccines, right now, the Oneida County Health Department has used all that we have received. The supply of vaccine that we are being allocated this week will be exhausted by next week, I can say that fairly confidently. We will have another allocation for next week and hopefully, that will be increased -- I hope significantly. I realize that might not be possible, but if it is then we will be able to better accommodate people with comorbidities," said Gilmore.
Health workers have the rest of this week to get vaccinated before the excess doses designated for health care workers will go to people with underlying health conditions.
For information on how to schedule a vaccine appointment, click here.