New York Vaccine Eligibility Expands

New Yorkers receive COVID-19 vaccines at New York State Vaccination Site in Brooklyn. (Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

Restaurant workers, taxi and car service drivers, and people with developmental disabilities are now eligible to be vaccinated in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at his press conference Tuesday afternoon that those groups would be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine, after facing criticism from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and advocacy groups for previously dismissing requests to expand eligibility categories.

On Monday, the governor criticized the push to allow restaurant workers to be vaccinated, saying, “It’s a cheap, insincere discussion. Yes, I would like to see restaurant workers eligible. But what does eligibility mean when you don’t have enough?”

On Tuesday morning, at his own press conference, de Blasio expressed frustration that the city was unable to vaccinate restaurant workers, noting that eateries would be allowed to seat people indoors later in the month.

“[The] restaurant workers now are going to be in enclosed places with people eating and drinking. And every doctor on this line or any place else will say, that’s an area of concern. We have to protect the people working in our restaurants,” the mayor said. “So now that the State has made this decision, it follows that we have to protect those workers and they should be added.”

Cuomo had frequently said  the state was struggling to vaccinate people while the state received limited supplies from the federal government, and that making more people eligible would strain the state’s limited supply. The announcement that even more people could be vaccinated came as President Biden’s administration indicated it would begin to scale up the dose supply sent weekly to states.

“Today, we are further increasing that weekly allocation by an additional five percent,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, who attended the governor’s conference virtually. “So, for the next three weeks we will provide a minimum of 10.5 million in total doses per week.”



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