Over a million New Yorkers have now gotten a booster shot, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday, but officials are not counting their chickens yet as the city prepares for the imminent arrival of the Omicron variant.
At his daily press briefing Wednesday, the mayor prodded city denizens to get boosted before families gather again for the holidays.
“This is the time,” Hizzoner said. “Get that booster before the holiday season, before any gatherings. This is the time.”
The news comes a little over two weeks after the city began encouraging all adults 18 and older to get a booster.
The vast majority of adults and teenagers in the city have now gotten at least one dose of the initial vaccine, with 89 percent of adults over 18 and 81 percent of teens aged 12-17 having gotten a jab. The numbers are much lower for younger children, with only 16 percent of 5-11-year-olds having gotten a dose so far, though that group has only been eligible to get a shot for about a month.
On Wednesday, the mayor said his administration is in talks to potentially expand the city’s vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other cultural establishments to include 5-11-year-olds, who had thus far not been included as they weren’t eligible for the shot. He said that he is “not there yet,” as the vaccination rate is still too low only a few weeks in, but he left the door open to implementing such a mandate before he leaves office.
“It’s only been a few weeks, but we need to get that number up a lot,” de Blasio said. “We’re trying to determine what’s the best way to handle that. At some point, obviously, they will be included, as is true for the 12-17-year-olds. But exactly when and how, we’re talking about, we’ll certainly have more to say on that in the days ahead.”
Cases were on the rise for nearly the entire month of November, with a seven-day average of 1,433 cases on Nov. 28 as compared to 823 on Nov. 1. The seven-day average only fell once in November, on Thanksgiving day, though the average hasn’t risen back to the 1,555 seen on Nov. 24.
The Omicron variant still has not been detected in the city, the mayor said, though its arrival is imminent if it isn’t already here. The highly transmissible variant, first identified in South Africa, has now been detected all over the world, including Canada. It’s still unclear if omicron is vaccine-resistant, and if so to what degree, but officials say the best way to protect oneself against it is to get the vaccine, including now a booster.