NYS health commissioner discusses back-to-school COVID vaccination efforts
Governor Kathy Hochul says masks will not be required in schools this year, but New York is stockpiling rapid tests and personal protective equipment in anticipation of yet another potential surge of COVID-19 as the fall gets under way.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett says the best protection for kids is to get vaccinated. Bassett also spoke about the current surge of the Omicron BA.5, and how to navigate a largely unregulated environment.
Bassett says “this is a really great time” for parents to get their children vaccinated, if they have not already done so.
“We still have much lower rates that I’d like to see, particularly in the 5 to 11-year-olds,” said Basset, who says fewer than 40% of kids in that age group are fully vaccinated.
The health commissioner also offered some advice for navigating the current surge of the BA.5 Omicron variant. She says again, the best protection is to become fully vaccinated. While masks are not required in most indoor settings, she recommends wearing one in places like the grocery store. Masks are still required on many forms of public transportation, and the New York City Health also commissioner recommends masking in indoor public settings.
Bassett says while there are more reported cases of COVID-19 this summer than the two previous summers, the incidences of hospitalization and death are much lower. She credits vaccinations for that.
Bassett is on the fence about whether it’s better to get a second booster shot now, if you have not already done so, or wait until a booster shot more targeted for the Omicron variants becomes available, likely in a couple of months.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable for people to wait for the Fall if they feel they’ve been doing a pretty good job at protecting themselves from infection,” she said.
Bassett says she received a second booster shot for added protection when traveling on airplanes and trains.