NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo made a big announcement on vaccine eligibility in New York State, and starting Tuesday, residents ages 50 and up will be eligible to get the COVID vaccine.
The governor made the announcement as he kicked off his "Roll Up Your Sleeve" campaign on Monday, joined by religious leaders of many different denominations.
"Vaccines will be available for people 50 years old and above, so we are dropping the age as we're vaccinating more people," Cuomo said.
Cuomo also asked the faith-based community to partner with a vaccine provider to help get people past vaccine hesitancy and also to offer the vaccines at their places of worship.
"As we saw Black experts around the country speak up and as we saw people still being affected, we do not have the luxury of waiting," the Rev. Al Sharpton said. "We must do all we can on the ground to save our people."
The governor said he thought that having religious leaders promote the vaccine would help with equity and getting it to minorities.
"That's what 'Roll Up Your Sleeves' is all about," he said. "Ask the faith-based community, partner with the health care operator, perform the vaccines in your facility and we will provide the vaccines to any facility that participates. Invite your congregation, invite your neighborhood, use your trust, use your relationship to get past this hesitancy, etc. We still have not reached fairness and equity in the vaccines."
Sharpton said faith leaders can play an important role in their communities.
"Houses of Worship are also places of refuge and trust, and there is no better place to have people confidently roll up their sleeves," he said. "We need faith leaders to rise up to the moment and help save people's lives that we are committed to serve."
Cuomo was vaccinated last week with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
Despite the optimism that has come with an increase in vaccinations, COVID variants, microscopic mutations of the virus, are causing a scare in the northeast.
Dr. Jennifer Lighter of NYU Langone Medical Center said it's a race between the variants and the vaccines, and it's not clear which one is winning.
But there is this: in the next week, the number of vaccines shipped from the three COVID vaccine manufacturers will double.
If the states can distribute as many doses as they get, spring might just seem a whole lot warmer.
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