According to Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 14% of adults in the United States have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine. This number is concerning, she said during a visit to Long Island on Monday.
Cohen urged local residents to get vaccinated, emphasizing that despite low reported cases, nearly 1,000 New Yorkers died from COVID-19 in the last three months. She also stressed the importance of getting vaccinated for flu and RSV, as both are on the rise locally and nationally.
After a tour of Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Cohen, a Baldwin native, expressed her personal connection to the area and advocated for vaccination, saying, “We all got the updated COVID vaccine, the updated flu shot. So I hope folks in Nassau County can hear from one of their own. I’m here back at home to say protect yourself this holiday season.”
State Department of Health statistics reveal that about 7.2% of Nassau County residents and 6.8% of Suffolk County residents have received the updated vaccine, but these numbers may be incomplete due to reporting no longer being mandatory. The statewide percentage, in areas outside of New York City, is 8.7%.
However, the national percentage cannot be directly compared with county and state numbers, as they are collected through different methods. CDC data is based on a national survey, which is self-reported. As of Nov. 17, 5.4% of children, 14.8% of adults over the age of 18, and 31.7% of adults 65 years of age and older had received the updated COVID-19 vaccine.
Cohen also addressed the availability of RSV vaccines for young children, pregnant women, and older adults for the first time this year, acknowledging a shortage of RSV monoclonal antibodies treatment for infants and young children.
Emphasizing the necessity of safe practices during Thanksgiving gatherings and travel, Cohen said, “I know it’s hard to miss family gatherings, but if you’re sick, please don’t spread those viruses around.”
Before touring Long Island, Cohen received a citation from Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, accompanied by her mother, Susan Krauthamer, a nurse practitioner. Local pediatrician Dr. John Zaso noted an increase in flu and RSV cases among unvaccinated children.
He emphasized the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, saying, “The risk of hospitalization is much less if you get that vaccine.”