BUFFALO, N.Y. — On January 12, New York State announced it would be opening up Phase 1B of vaccine distribution to people 65 and older and people who are immunocompromised. While the 65-plus group has started getting the first dose, people who are immunocompromised have not.
Several 2 On Your Side viewers asked, "What immunocompromised groups are included in Phase 1B?"
Once the federal government gives the state doses of the vaccine, the state is in charge of distributing them to vaccination sites. So, we went to the New York State Department of Health to get answers.
A NYSDOH spokesperson sent us a tweet the Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, sent out January 12 confirming that the list of qualifying conditions for Phase 1B hadn't been released. She said, "To be clear: immunocompromised will be included in this next eligible group, per CDC recommendation-we are working with the CDC to find out exactly how best to define this category."
But that was more than a week ago, so the NYSDOH spokesperson said in-part, "While we understand these groups' concerns and are sensitive to their requests, we are constrained until the federal government steps up and provides more doses."
So, there is no list yet.
2 On Your Side also asked the NYSDOH, "How many people in New York are included in the immunocompromised group in Phase 1B?"
And, since the list isn't out, we don't know. The NYSDOH told us that right now, more than 7 million New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine.
And many of you want to know if it's safe for immunocompromised people to get the vaccine.
While we did not get a direct answer to that question, the NYSDOH sent 2 On Your Side this question and answer instead, "Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?"
The state says, "Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Please consult with your health care provider if you have specific questions about the COVID vaccine and your health."
As thousands of Western New Yorkers try to make appointments to get the first dose, they are also looking ahead to the second.
We got this question a lot, "Can you tell me if an appointment has to be made for the second dose or is the appointment made at the time of the first?"
A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health told us that if you're making an appointment on the state's website for a state-run site, you should only make an appointment for your first dose. He says, "While they are on site to receive their first dose, an appointment will be made for the second."
And he added that you'll get your second dose at the same place.
"Can you get this vaccine if you're allergic to a medication?" That's a popular question.
The state gave us information from the CDC that says the two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States do not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex. We were also given links to the full list of ingredients in each vaccine.
If you have questions about your allergies, ask your doctor.
We also got this viewer question, "Once people are fully vaccinated and they want to travel out of the state, will they have to do quarantine for 10 days or test before they come back to New York, wait three days and test to opt out of quarantine?"
The NYSDOH told 2 On Your Side that "Even though most people who have been vaccinated will be protected from illness, it's possible they may still transmit COVID-19 to others. As such, New York's pandemic travel requirements have not changed at this time."