NYC Jumps Feds in Making All Adults COVID Booster-Eligible in Bid to Beat Rising Cases

Across New York state, the number of people testing positive each day for the virus has gone up 45% since Halloween -- and the recent increase comes ahead of the busiest travel season of the year

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What to Know

  • New York City's top doctor said Monday that all New Yorkers age 18 and older can get a COVID booster if they want one
  • The FDA and CDC have yet to authorize boosters for all adults, which could come as early as next week, but NYC is making them all booster-eligible now, citing density as a heightened risk factor
  • In New Jersey, the governor all but endorsed the same idea, telling reporters "you can assume that's a direction we are headed"

Live in New York City? At least 18 years old? You can get a COVID-19 booster shot. It doesn't matter which vaccine you had your first time around or whether it's been six months since that dose -- and you likely don't even need an appointment.

You ask for it, you got it -- that's the message NYC health boss Dr. Dave Chokshi, who battled COVID himself earlier this year, is sharing with providers and the public alike. He signed a commissioner's advisory a day ago reminding doctors and pharmacies not to deny any adults who come in and ask for a COVID booster shot.

The holidays are nearly upon us, marking the busiest travel time of the year, and New Yorkers, along with the rest of the country, are well aware of what happened after the last winter season. This time, officials say, the U.S. has the power of mass vaccination on its side -- and local health officials are urging people to use it.

New Jersey's governor says his administration is heading in a similar direction as New York City as far as making booster universally accessible to adults. Gov. Phil Murphy made the comments Monday as his health commissioner reported the highest number of new severe COVID-cases in children in some time.

According to the latest New York City numbers, the rolling weekly new confirmed COVID case average is up 13% compared with the rolling average the prior four weeks. Just a fraction of those new cases are breakthrough infections, but research shows vaccine efficacy does wane over time, no matter which brand you had, and health officials urge people to get an added boost of protection this time of year.

New York City and New Jersey Vaccine Providers

Click on each provider to find more information on scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Data: City of New York, State of New Jersey • Nina Lin / NBC

Statewide across New York, the number of people testing positive each day for the virus has gone up 45% since Halloween. As of Monday, New York was averaging around 5,400 new cases per day over the past seven days.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday didn't go as far as to say all New York adults statewide could get boosters if they wanted, and her health commissioner didn't issue an advisory like Chokshi, but the governor did say she believes “no one who feels they are at risk should be turned away from getting a COVID-19 booster shot.”

She pointed to recent comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci that underscore the point. Fauci himself also addressed the rising caseload Monday, saying it extends to the national level, too. He said two regions -- the northeast and midwest -- were primarily responsible for the recent influx. Deaths and hospitalizations remain down, a testament to the power of vaccines to prevent serious illness, officials say.

U.S. health officials have yet to authorize booster shots for all adults, but current federal guidance says they're recommended for anyone age 65 or older, who has an underlying health condition or lives and works in a “high-risk” setting.

New York City's density makes it a high-risk setting by default, Chokshi submitted. Dr. Mitchell Katz, the CEO of the city's public hospital system, agreed.

And the holidays present a peak vulnerability time as New York City, the one-time epicenter of the global pandemic looks to continue its accelerated pace of recovery.

The federal government approved COVID booster shots last month for millions of Americans, including the mixing and matching of vaccine brands. Health officials say the latter is safe -- and boosters are recommended for most of the population.

Federal authorization of boosters for all adults could come as early as next week.

New York City's top doctor said Monday that all New Yorkers age 18 and older can get a COVID booster if they want one -- and he issued a commissioner's advisory reminding providers not to deny anyone who wants that added protection. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.
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