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NYS says it needs to define immunocompromised before people can register for vaccines

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Posted at 11:48 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-14 23:48:19-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — After hearing the news on Tuesday that people 65 and older, along with people who are immunocompromised are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Susan and David Boldt of Williamsville went to sign up.

Only Susan could successfully complete the eligibility screener, she's over 65. David is 64 and immunocompromised.

“There were no questions relative to that at all," Boldt said.

There's no option to check immunocompromised on the form determining eligibility, so Boldt said he was denied.

“In my mind I’m thinking, ok, if they’re directing you to the website, someone like me is gonna get approved,” he said.

A spokesperson tells 7 Eyewitness News the state is still working with the CDC on a clearer definition of who falls under immunocompromised, and until then New Yorkers will not be able to register under it.

That is why there is no option on the form.

The state did not specify when immunocompromised will be defined.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York is following federal guidance by expanding vaccine eligibility to the two newest groups.

"They don't define immunocompromised, and immunocompromised is a category that can be defined a number of ways," he said during Tuesday's announcement.

UB's Chief of Infectious Disease Dr. Thomas Russo said tens of millions of Americans nationwide are immunocompromised.

"A number of disease states can also cause a relative immunocompromised status," Russo said. "So an obvious one would be HIV infection, however, certain cancers, and even diabetes could cause a relative immunocompromised state. So having said that, there's a wide variety of individuals that may fall under this category, and we await with interest what Governor Cuomo more specifically designates as immunocompromised individuals that will be eligible for getting vaccinated sooner, as opposed to later," Russo said.

The Erie County Health Department said until the state has a clear definition it can't estimate how many people locally fall under immunocompromised.

The governor says although the number of New Yorkers eligible to be vaccinated has increased, the number of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives from the federal government each week is not changing.

Officials say the state receives 300,000 doses of the vaccine each week, meaning it will take weeks to vaccinate those who are currently eligible. Previously, the state estimated it would take until April to vaccinate those in groups 1A and 1B.