Gov. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY (TNS) — COVID-19 vaccinations for 12- to 15-year-olds in New York could start later this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Regulators approved the use of the Pfizer Covid vaccine for that age group Monday. A federal vaccine advisory committee will meet Wednesday to consider the matter and an announcement is expected after that, according to The Associated Press.

New York’s own vaccine advisory group will then meet and make a state-level recommendation, Cuomo said in a statement. The shots could start in New York as soon as Thursday.

“This is an encouraging step in the ongoing battle against this global pandemic,” Cuomo said. “The Covid-19 vaccine is our best weapon to defeat the virus, and we’re taking all the appropriate precautions to ensure the safety and effectiveness of our vaccine program.”

Cuomo’s statement did not include any details on where shots will be available for the new age group or whether appointments will be needed. New York’s mass vaccination sites have been taking walk-ins with no appointments required since late April.

Demand for shots has declined in New York and the rest of the nation in recent weeks.

Cuomo announced new efforts Monday to boost vaccinations, including requiring vaccines for all State University of New York students in the fall.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York rose slightly Monday, but new cases reached another new low since the fall.

Hospitalizations rose 10 to 2,026, but remain at their lowest level in months. A total of 491 people were in intensive care units, down two, and 290 were intubated, down 11.

Over the last week, hospitalizations are down 547.

The state confirmed 1,516 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, down from 1,580 the day before, and reported 99,656 test results. The statewide percentage of people testing positive for the virus was 1.52%.

The last time the state saw fewer new cases in a day was Oct. 25, when the total was 1,191.

Hospitalizations and new cases are both at their lowest points since the fall and are down sharply from their most recent highs in January.

Another 32 people in New York died Monday due to COVID, which brings the statewide death toll to 42,341.

“We’re doing everything we can to get vaccinations up,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday during a press conference in New York City. “As the number of vaccinations goes up, the positivity comes down. The message is vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”

More than 48% of New Yorkers have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and 39.5% have had all required doses.

The statewide seven-day average for positivity in testing for the virus was 1.34%, down from 1.4% the previous day. That’s the lowest statewide seven-day average since Oct. 24.

Western New York’s seven-day average was 2.34% — and the region no longer has the highest rate of the state’s 10 regions. The Finger Lakes was at 2.71% as of Monday.

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