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De Blasio Implores State to Expand Vaccinations for More Essential Workers

The mayor wants the state to immediately expand vaccinations for employees who work in food delivery, bodegas, and delis

A DoorDash delivery driver riding a bicycle picks up food from Jack’s Wife Freda during the first snow of the season on December 09, 2020 in New York City.  Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

On Tuesday, NYC mayor Bill de Blasio publicly urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expand the current pool of vaccine-eligible New Yorkers to include food delivery workers, bodega staff, and deli employees.

The announcement comes after the state began allowing NYC to start vaccinating New Yorkers yesterday who qualify under the Phase 1b vaccination plan, which encompasses public-facing grocery store workers, people who live and work in homeless shelters, and any person over the age of 75. However, many other essential workers, including food delivery workers and bodega workers, are excluded from the Phase 1b categorization. The mayor is now calling on the state to expand the Phase 1b category to include these essential workers and allow them to get vaccinated immediately.

“They’re coming in contact with us, they’re serving us, we depend on them,” de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference. “They deserve the right to be vaccinated.”

The state ultimately makes the final decision on how and when the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed in New York.

Last week, the mayor issued similar public pleas to the state to allow NYC to start vaccinating people in Phase 1b. The city was previously limited to only issuing vaccinations to people in Phase 1a, like healthcare workers, even though de Blasio said they had capacity to vaccinate more people. Following the mayor’s actions, Cuomo issued new guidance on Friday that people in Phase 1b of the state’s vaccination plans could start getting vaccinated on January 11.

It is still unclear when NYC’s restaurant workers — many of whom are also public-facing employees and have been working throughout the pandemic — will be allowed to have access to the vaccine. A representative for the city’s Department of Health told Eater on Monday that eligibility and vaccine timelines are all determined by the state, which has not responded to requests for comment to clarify when restaurant workers will be allowed to vaccinate.