Update Monday, Jan 11, 11 a.m.
Beginning at 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 11, the New York State Covid-19 Vaccination Hotline will open for scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible New Yorkers in Phase 1b at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
You can also visit the NYS website at https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ to check eligibility and to find the current nearest location.
Original story follows:
Public school employees including teachers, first responders, public safety and transit workers, public-facing grocery store workers and residents and employees of homeless shelters along with those ages 75 and up, can begin to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, said Governor Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 8.
Mr. Cuomo said in his Friday media briefing that the state will launch a web portal to accept reservations to receive the vaccine on Monday. Currently, the state Department of Health’s website allows you to sign up for an alert when you are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Currently, health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, who are at the greatest risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus, are being vaccinated by hospital networks throughout the state. These residents are in the 1a distribution group.
The second group of eligible New York residents, 1b, will be eligible to be vaccinated beginning Monday. This group includes residents ages 75 and up, teachers, police officers, firefighters, public safety workers and transit workers.
Mr. Cuomo said there are a total of 3.2 million New Yorkers in the 1b group, 427,000 of whom live on Long Island.
He added that older residents are of particular concern.
“These are the people who have been hyper-cautious now for many, many months,” he said of people ages 75 and up. “They haven’t seen their family and they’re afraid to go out. This is the group that desperately needs the vaccine.”
At the current federal distribution rate to New York of 300,000 vaccines per week, Mr. Cuomo cautioned that it would take until April 16, 14 weeks, to vaccinate all residents in groups 1a and 1b. He said residents shouldn’t be surprised if they sign up to get the vaccine on Monday and receive an appointment for months later.
He said New York is constantly asking the federal government for more doses, and is optimistic about the promise of other vaccines currently in clinical trials and by the incoming Biden administration’s plans to ramp up vaccine approval, distribution and production.
“This is a crisis. Everybody needs it, but we’re going to do it fairly,” said the governor, adding that the state is mandating equitable distribution, disqualifying providers who violate the eligibility rules and working with local health departments to reach out to public housing, low income census tracks and houses of worship.
“We’re not going to decide, in this state, who lives and dies by race and income,” he said. “Health care deserts are going to be once again at bottom of line, but that’s not what we’re going to let happen.”
Group 1c includes “other essential workers,” which the state has not yet defined, people ages 65 and over and people ages 16 and over with high risk medical conditions. The state has not yet established a date to start vaccinating people in this group. The general public would be eligible to receive the vaccine after group 1c.
While the initial vaccinations were done primarily by hospitals, Mr. Cuomo said the state is working with county health departments, physician networks, pharmacies and urgent care centers to expand availability of the vaccine in the upcoming weeks, including 500 pharmacies that will begin administering the vaccine the week of Jan. 11.
The state is also planning to open 20 mass vaccination sites in the upcoming weeks, including the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, which is slated to come online this Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Suffolk County Community College has offered all of its campuses — in Riverhead, Selden and Brentwood — as vaccination sites, and the Brentwood campus is already distributing vaccines to members of group 1a, said college spokesman Drew Biondo on Jan. 8. Suffolk County is coordinating those vaccinations.
“While vaccine supplies are limited, we will continue to urge New York State to expand its vaccination program as quickly as possible to protect our community, especially our most vulnerable population,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell in a Jan. 8 announcement. “To facilitate this, I have already coordinated with New York State representatives and identified potential sites to serve as vaccination centers. I offered all of our Town’s resources and support and we are ready to go when they are. I will release more information as decisions get made.”
Mr. Cuomo said Friday that he was surprised by the low percentage of health care workers eligible to receive the vaccine who had taken it since they became eligible in mid-December.
On Long Island, 25 percent of the 230,000 health care workers who were eligible for the vaccine had taken it as of Jan. 8.
“We need our hospital staff safe,” said Mr. Cuomo, adding that, as hospitals fill up with sick patients, they need their staff to be healthy and at work.
“Our hospital capacity is most limited by staff shortages now,” he said, adding that if hospital workers “are infected and don’t know it they are super-spreaders.”
“Health care workers have to be a minimum of 70 percent vaccinated,” he said. “All expectations were it would be higher than 70 percent. Health care workers are the most informed, and doctors are overwhelmingly taking the vaccination.”
Editor’s Note: We will update this story with further details as they are released on Monday.