Onondaga County residents 30 and older are newly eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and those 16 and older will soon follow. New York State announced the change Monday. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon has been calling for expanded eligibility in order for the county to maintain its current vaccination pace.
McMahon expects there to be plenty of available appointments for those 30 and older, but there could be some more competition for slots once the vaccine opens to all people 16 and older.
“A lot of folks in these demographics already have gotten the shot as well. I think we’ll get through it quicker than people think,” said McMahon. “And then once you get to the 16,17,18 year olds it’s going to be a lot of kids. It’s going to be a lot of people. Then you’re going to get through your 20s. It’s going to be a lot of people who probably don’t have the preexisting conditions at the same rates that the 40-year-olds do.”
The vaccine opens to those 16 and older starting April 6th. The county plans to eventually bring pop up clinics to Onondaga County high schools and other community locations. About 44% of the county’s adult population has received at least a first dose of the vaccine, and this eligibility opening will allow the region to get closer to herd immunity.
However, some people are still hesitant to get a vaccine. McMahon said the messaging around the vaccine needs to be clear in order to get those nervous about the shot on board.
“The vaccine is good. It works. Once we get enough people to get the vaccine, we’re going to be in a different spot with this pandemic. And the things we value as a community, we’ll be able to do again,” said McMahon. “I think we’ve just got to message that a little bit clearer because then those people on the fence will get it done.”
The county will start its vaccine education and outreach in communities with low vaccination rates once all those willing to get a shot gets one.
The majority of the county’s weekly vaccine allotment is distributed through its OnCenter pod. McMahon said he doesn’t know if the county will expand to a second permanent location, but they will do more drive through clinics at Shoppingtown Mall as the weather allows. Community pop up clinics will also continue. County vaccine appointments are available on the county’s website.