Today, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) joined Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, and Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Chief Executive Officer Joan Cusack-McGuirk on National Nurses Day for the second stop on the Congressman’s vaccine awareness tour. Together, they discussed vaccine hesitancy in Orange County and met with local nurses to recognize their work keeping New Yorkers healthy throughout the pandemic.
“We are in a race against time to beat COVID-19 variants as the virus continues to spread around the world. It's essential that everyone get this vaccine, so we can finally put this pandemic behind us,” said Rep. Maloney. “Getting vaccinated is the most patriotic thing you can do to help your country right now. Everyone has their own role to play, so tell your friends, tell your neighbors, and get the shot. It’s safe, and it will save your life.”
“COVID-19 rates are down to the lowest point since November here in Orange County, and things are getting back to normal, but until we have a critical mass of residents vaccinated, variants remain a risk. We can’t let vaccine hesitancy set us back on our path to reopening,” said County Executive Neuhaus. “The message has got to be clear, come and get your shots now. It's easy and simple.”
Vaccine hesitancy is impacting communities across the country. Recent polling, has found 31 percent of people under age 35 do not plan on getting vaccinated. Health experts say getting COVID-19 under control means getting herd immunity up to at least 70 percent of the population.
Right now, Orange County lags behind the statewide vaccination rate average with only 39 percent of residents having received their first dose, compared with 47 percent statewide. Initially Orange County points of dispensing (PODS) were distributing about 2,000 to 3,000 vaccines a day. The county reports that number has dropped to around 200. Vaccine hesitancy could become a roadblock on the road to herd immunity. The longer that takes, the more time there is for dangerous variants to arise and possibly evade vaccines.
Rep. Maloney is visiting counties in his district to update the community on the status of vaccinations and combat vaccine hesitancy. His first stop was in Dutchess County at the Poughkeepsie Galleria Vaccination Site with County Executive Marcus Molinaro.