NY Nears Huge Vaccine Milestone as Biden Pushes Bold New U.S. Goal by July 4

New York is closing in on administering at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to half of the state's residents, while its positivity and hospitalization rates have fallen to Thanksgiving lows and continue to drop

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state, including the city, can fully reopen at some point within the next two months if vaccinations stay on track, meaning, "literally, everything back to normal"
  • President Joe Biden has set a new goal of administering at least one shot to 70% of adult Americans by the Fourth of July
  • Connecticut, which previously set May 19 as the date to start phasing out all remaining COVID rules but indoor masking, is the first U.S. state to fully vaccinate half its residents age 18+, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

BREAKING UPDATE: Broadway Tickets Go on Sale Thursday for 100% Reopening Sept. 14; Stadiums Debut Vaccinated-Only Sections, Cuomo Says

Nearly half of New York City and state residents have had at least one vaccine dose as of Wednesday, though with rates declining across the board, renewed efforts are underway to reach those resistant or less inclined for whatever reason to get shots.

That applies at the national level, too, where President Joe Biden set a new goal to deliver at least one dose to 70% of adult Americans by July Fourth as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over the "doubters" as well as the unmotivated.

In New York, all city-run and all state-run mass vaccine sites now accept walk-ins, with officials hoping that make the process more convenient will encourage more doses. New Jersey recently moved to do the same at its state-run sites as vaccination rates slough off from the mad crush of people who pushed to get shots earlier in the rollout.

Vaccination rates among those 16 to 25, who were among the last to earn eligibility and who may be less likely to abide by core COVID precautions, are particularly low. Nationally, 10.2% of those 18-29 are fully vaccinated despite representing 16.3% of the population, while just 0.7% of those younger than 18 have completed their series.

Not sure how the process works? Check out our handy tri-state vaccine site finder and FAQs here

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

In New York City, 19% of those age 18-24 are fully vaccinated while just 1% of those younger than 18 can say the same. Pfizer is the only federally approved vaccine authorized for emergency use among 16- and 17-year-olds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suggested high schools help increase vaccination rates by bussing eligible students to hubs as long as they have parental consent. The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer's vaccine for youngsters ages 12 to 15 by next week, which could mean a large swath of students could be vaccinated by the time school gets back to "full strength" come fall, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed it will.

To date, 36.4% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, while more than a third of New York City residents can say the same. In terms of those who have gotten at least one dose, the state can say that for 47.2% of its residents, while the city has administered at least one dose to 45.2% of its population.

In order to incentivize more people to get the shot in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy introduced a new program offering a free beer to those who get a COVID-19 vaccine in May (sorry, folks, there's no retroactive clause for those who got vaccinated earlier).

About 38% percent of Garden State residents are fully vaccinated to date, putting Murphy nearly 72% of the way to his goal of fully immunizing at least 4.7 million New Jersey adults by June 30.

Connecticut is the first state in America to have half of its residents age 18 and up fully vaccinated, Gov. Ned Lamont said this week.

Tri-state governors say increasing vaccination numbers and decreasing core viral rates, especially in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, has empowered them to take more aggressive reopening steps in recent weeks while still prioritizing public health.

The biggest test -- and the most significant reopening move since the pandemic started -- will come in exactly two weeks, when New York, New Jersey and Connecticut lift nearly all business capacity restrictions as they push to restore life closer to normal.

Monday's joint announcement marked the single most aggressive step yet in fully reopening New York, which Cuomo said could happen within the next two months if the pace of vaccinations stays on track, meaning, "literally, everything back to normal."

New Jersey will lift all COVID-19 outdoor gathering limits and remove a 50% capacity limit on indoor restaurants and bars, as long as 6-foot distancing can be maintained, beginning on May 19. NBC New York's Ray Villeda reports.

Some precautions will remain when the tri-state area lifts most remaining business capacity restrictions May 19, but the influx of people into offices, onto streets, into trains and bars and restaurants will be the clearest glimpse of the new normal so far.

COVID-19 could soon become like the flu -- at least that's what Mayor de Blasio hopes. In other words, the virus wouldn't go away forever. But we'd learn to live with it.

"I never actually thought herd immunity in the purest form was the goal that was so assured to us," de Blasio said in an NY1 interview earlier this week. "Honestly, I thought of it as more community immunity, more functional immunity."

When asked on Friday about what percentage of the U.S. will need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the number is still unknown, saying, “I think we need to get away from waiting for this mystical, elusive number and just say to get as many people as we possibly can get vaccinated, as quickly as possible.”

"I was anticipating a world in which COVID becomes like influenza. Flu we have to take seriously, we lose some people each year to the flu. But for the vast majority of people, it's a quick shot and they're fine," he added. "So, COVID is not going to go away permanently, but we can reduce COVID’s impact to so little that it becomes just a part of the sort of health backdrop in New York City as we continue to recover."

Contact Us