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NYC Grocery Workers Now Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

It is not clear yet when restaurant staffers will be able to get vaccinated

People arrive to receive a dose of the Moderna coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at South Bronx Educational Campus, in the Bronx New York on January 10, 2021. 
People arrive to receive the vaccine at South Bronx Educational Campus
Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

NYC’s vaccine eligibility pool has expanded today to include public-facing grocery store workers, among other groups, according to the state’s Department of Health.

As part of Phase 1b of New York’s vaccine distribution plan, which went into effect starting today, NYC grocery workers who interact with the public can now schedule appointments online or by phone to get vaccinated at one of the city’s designated vaccine hubs. Other people now eligible for the vaccine include public transit staff, first responders including firefighters and police and support staff for those agencies, and any New Yorker over the age of 75.

Initially, only people who fell into Phase 1a categories — including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, plus nursing home residents and staff — were eligible for vaccination in New York this month according to the state government, which holds control over how the vaccine is distributed in New York.

However, following multiple public calls from Mayor Bill de Blasio for the state to let more essential workers and at-risk people get vaccinated, the state has now allowed Phase 1b vaccinations to commence. Previously, de Blasio said in press conferences last week that NYC had capacity to start vaccinating groups in 1b but could not start due to state regulations. On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Phase 1b vaccinations would be allowed to start on January 11.

The mayor said in a press conference on Monday that over 100,000 people were vaccinated in New York City last week, and the city aims to vaccinate another 175,000 people this week. The mayor has set a goal of vaccinating 1 million people in NYC by the end of January.

It is not clear yet when restaurant staffers will be eligible to take the vaccine. According to the NYC Department of Health website’s vaccine eligibility page, more frontline essential workers will “likely” have access to the vaccine starting in February 2021, although it is not clear which groups of essential workers that will include. A spokesperson for NYC’s Department of Health said that eligibility and timing details are all determined by the state. The state did not respond to a request for comment to clarify when restaurant staffers would be eligible for the vaccine.

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