People with developmental and intellectual disabilities should receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine, state Sen. John Mannion on Thursday said.
Mannion, a freshman Democrat from central New York, urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expand the eligibility for people with disabilities as the COVID-19 vaccine supply has dwindled in the state.
"Although individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities living in group settings were included in Phase 1a of vaccine distribution, this is not enough. Less than 20% of these individuals actually live in congregate homes, meaning many were not eligible," Mannion wrote in the letter to Cuomo. "People with disabilities who live independently or with caregivers should also be vaccinated as soon as possible."
Mannion pointed to the health challenges facing people with developmental disabilities making them uniquely vulnerable to the coronavirus.
"Several of these disabilities are tied to other medical conditions ranging from respiratory problems, to heart disease, to low muscle tone tied to choking," he wrote. "These comorbidities put people with developmental and intellectual disabilities at a higher risk of death if they contract COVID-19."
The supply continues to constrain the distribution process, the governor's office on Thursday said.
“Our singular goal is to get as many New Yorkers vaccinated as quickly as possible — but due to a lack of supply from the federal government, we are not able to further expand eligibility at this point," said Cuomo spokesman Jack Sterne.
"Currently over 7 million New Yorkers are eligible for the vaccine, but our weekly allocation of doses from the federal government was cut without any explanation. While we understand the concerns and requests of all New Yorkers, we are constrained until the Federal government steps up and provides more doses -- hopefully this will change with the new administration.”
Cuomo's office on Thursday announced the state had administered 96,000 shots in the last 24 hours as of 11 a.m. Thursday morning. All told, more than 1.1 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the state -- the vast majority of which are first of two doses.
"We are racing to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible while doing everything we can to reduce the infection rate," Cuomo said in a statement. "We've made progress on both fronts since the post-holiday surge but there's a long way to go before we reach the light at the end of the tunnel."
More than 7 million people in the state qualify for the vaccine, but the number of doses available has been reduced in the last two weeks, with New York receiving 50,000 fewer shots than in previous weeks.