New York State Department of Health Urges Older Adults to Get the Updated COVID-19 Vaccine

Department Raises Concerns that Overall Vaccination Rates Remain Low

ALBANY, NY (November 2, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health is encouraging all who are eligible to receive the updated COVID-19 vaccine to get their shot now as we have entered respiratory season and as the holiday travel season approaches. While reported administration of the new vaccine remains low throughout the state, the Department continues to encourage higher vaccination rates among older New Yorkers and other vulnerable populations.

"While current hospitalization rates are going down, COVID is still an ongoing threat and I am concerned for older New Yorkers, especially those in long-term care settings," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "The updated vaccine is the most effective protection against current COVID variants, so I'm once again encouraging all those eligible to get the updated COVID vaccine and the flu shot. Nobody wants to get sick and miss out on the holidays."

Since July, in anticipation of the release of the updated vaccine in September, the Department's Office of Aging and Long-term Care and the Office of Public Health have taken several steps to protect long-term care (LTC) facility residents and their staff by reiterating the importance of vaccination for all consenting residents and health care personnel, as well as implementing infection control and prevention measures. The Department has made and continues to make direct contact with LTC facility administrators and associations through weekly letters and various webinars and holds biweekly calls with LTC associations.

Director of the Office of Long-term Care and Aging Adam Herbst said, "Our office, along with the Department's Office of Public Health, takes a multi-faceted approach to encouraging vaccination for residents living in long-term care facilities, this includes frequent and consistent communication about the importance of vaccination."

The Department is also encouraging LTC facilities to concurrently provide flu shots to residents at the time of administering the updated COVID-19 vaccine. It is safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.

New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, "As we head into colder months, with more time spent indoors, it is important for older adults and people of all ages to protect themselves against the double threat of COVID and the flu. If you've recently gotten your COVID vaccination and flu shot, thank you for taking this step to protect yourself and your community. If you haven't received a COVID vaccine in the past two months or haven't yet received the flu shot this season, please talk with your doctor or pharmacist about medical eligibility for either an updated COVID shot or flu shot, which remain your best protection this fall and winter."

The updated COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months or older who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two months to protect against potentially serious illness from COVID-19. Recommended dosages and the schedule vary depending on age, immune status and COVID-19 vaccine history.

The updated vaccine, authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration, is available at pharmacies and physicians' offices, as well as other health care providers, throughout New York State.

The current COVID-19 vaccination dashboard is currently paused and will be updated in the coming weeks to reflect data for the new updated COVID-19 vaccine.

The Department and the Wadsworth Center continue the vital strategies of wastewater surveillance and laboratory clinical analysis, conducted with partners at Syracuse University and across the state, to understand variant spread and the potential impact on public health. Current wastewater surveillance also indicates a decrease in the prevalence of the virus.

The latest on New York's Response to COVID-19 can be found here.

Where to find the COVID-19 vaccine in your area can be found here.

Where to find flu vaccines in your area can be found here.