NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many 9/11 first responders are still waiting for their COVID vaccine shots, despite having preexisting conditions including battles with cancers, lung diseases and other ailments that put them at greater risk.
Many are not yet eligible, while healthy New Yorkers are, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.READ MORE: Candidate Conversations: Curtis Sliwa
“We all had a baseline of being healthy and now, now we’re devastated,” said retired NYPD member Tom Wilson, who is battling mouth cancer years after rushing to the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Rich Palmer, a retired New York City corrections officer, did the same. And he’s paying the price.
“I have major heart issues. I have asthma,” said Palmer.
Heroes like Wilson and Palmer are fighting for their chance to just get on line for a COVID vaccine.
Their average age is 59, too young to join the 65 and up group, which is filling vaccine timeslots for months.
“We are relying on a vaccination to prolong our already shortened life. This is disturbing,” said John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation.
- New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX
- New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Nassau County more info here
- Suffolk County more info here
- Westchester County more info here
- New Jersey book online here or call 1-855-568-0545
- Connecticut book online here
Feal, a construction worker turned advocate, said they can’t afford to wait behind healthy New Yorkers.
“We are demanding that these men and women, uniformed and non-uniformed, get vaccinated. It’s that simple. They will die without the vaccination,” Feal said.READ MORE: Drug Trafficking Ring Shipped Cocaine To New York Inside Children's Lunch Boxes, Investigators Say
It’s been more than two weeks since Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light to those 65 and over for the vaccine, promising those with underlying illnesses would be added as soon as CDC guidance is issued.
New Jersey already gave the green light to people who have certain health conditions, including smokers.
In a statement, the New York Health Department said:
We continue to do everything possible to get as many New Yorkers vaccinated as quickly as possible. 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. We are encouraged by the new administration’s announcement that we will get 16 percent greater allocation, and we hope to continue to receive more doses and guidance on this issue.
Deciding who goes first and who must wait for the vaccine is an ethical issue with grave consequences, according to Martine Hackett, a public health expert with Hofstra University.
“Once the door was opened to anyone 65 and older, and you add that on top of that there was a limit to the amount of vaccines that are available, that really causes not only an ethical dilemma, but it also causes people to distrust the overall system,” Hackett said.
- Ask CBS2’s Dr. Max Your Vaccine Questions
- COVID Vaccine FAQ From CDC
- Vaccination Sites In New York City | Call 877-VAX-4NYC
- Find A New York City Testing Site Near You
- Check NYC Testing Wait Times
- Explanation Of N.Y.’s Yellow, Orange, Red Zones (.pdf)
- Resources: Help With Unemployment, Hunger, Mental Health & More
- Remote Learning Tools For Students And Parents At Home
- Complete Coronavirus Coverage
The first responders are being told to wait for more vaccines to come in.
Retired FDNY Lieutenant Mike O’Connell, who has an autoimmune disease from his service, says everyone with compromised health deserves and equal shot.
“Not just for first responders. Anybody that has preexisting conditions,” O’Connell said.
Sixty more 9/11 first responders have died in the pandemic. Advocates are asking leaders in Albany to act fast before more names are added to a memorial wall.MORE NEWS: Nonprofits Now Have New Home In Brooklyn, Thanks To Transformation Of Bedford-Union Armory
MORE FROM CBS NEW YORK:
- Gov. Cuomo: Plan Coming To Allow Indoor Dining In New York City To Resume At 25%
- 15-Year-Old Uniondale High School Basketball Player Jo-Jo Wright Killed In Car Crash: ‘He Was A Star In The Making’
- Eviction Moratorium: Brooklyn Couple Says They Can’t Kick Tenant Out, Despite Assault Charge And Restraining Order