Although coronavirus cases continue to increase, New Yorkers were given a glimmer of hope on December 14, when a New York City critical care nurse was given the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
It was like the light at the end of the tunnel clicked on and we could all suddenly see an eventual end in sight. Every week, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have been announcing plans for how the state and city will roll out the vaccine, from who can get it and where.
Here's everything we know about the city's vaccine allotment, who will be prioritized and when New Yorkers can expect to gain access to the vaccine.
How many doses of the vaccine does New York City have?
As of February 9, more than 1 million doses have been administered.
Who gets the vaccine first?
People 75 and older, teachers and education workers, first responders, public safety workers, and public transit workers as well as high-risk hospital workers, nursing home residents and staff, federally qualified health center employees, coroners, medical examiners, funeral workers, urgent care center employees, COVID-19 vaccine administrators and residents of office of addiction services and supports facilities have been getting the vaccine under Phase 1B.
On February 2, Governor Cuomo announced that restaurant workers, taxi drivers and workers at facilities for the developmentally disabled were eligible to receive the vaccine.
And starting February 15, New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions are eligible to receive the vaccine. That means anyone with the following:
- Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
- Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
- Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
- Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
- Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer's Disease or dementia
- Liver disease
You'll have to bring a doctor's letter, medical information evidencing comorbidity, or signed certification to the facility where you're getting your vaccination.
How will you know when you can get vaccinated?
The city and state announce which groups are up for vaccination. The vaccine will be made available to the general public when there are enough vaccine doses available. The city says that might not happen until mid-2021.
How can you find out where you are in line?
New York has an "Am I Eligible" app to help New Yorkers determine their eligibility and connect users with administration centers for information and to schedule appointments.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can visit the "Am I Eligible" tool and complete a quick set of questions to determine if you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are, the tool will offer a list of providers near you that you can contact to lock in an appointment. New Yorkers can return to the app at any time to recheck their eligibility.
The New York Times with the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs also came up with a tool that calculates the number of people set to get the vaccine across the country and where anyone might fall on that list.
You can play around with the simple tool right here. You'll have to input your age, the name of the county you live in, indicate whether you belong to one of four professions (health care worker, essential worker, first responder or teacher) and whether you suffer from any COVID-19-related health risks.
The city’s Vaccine Command Center also has a vaccine tracker that shows a daily snapshot of how many people have been vaccinated, as well as how many vaccines have been delivered and reserved.
Where will you need to go to get a vaccine?
Like any other vaccine, you'll be able to get it from your health care provider, at community and hospital clinics, pharmacies, urgent care centers and some COVID-19 testing sites and community pop-up locations may also provide vaccinations, which you can find here.
The state has also set up drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination sites at bigger facilities like the Javits Center, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, Brooklyn Army Terminal, and at SUNY and CUNY campuses.
To see what site is the closest, you can now input your address or zip code at vaccinefinder.nyc.gov to find the nearest vaccine provider. From there, you can schedule an appointment on the respective vaccination center sites.
According to the New York Times, the federal government will send one million vaccine doses to nearly 6,500 retail pharmacies on February 11, with the goal of including about 40,000 drugstores and grocery stores in total.
How much will the vaccine cost?
It is free for everyone. If you have insurance, it may be billed but you will not be charged a copay or any other fee. Just be sure to double-check with your healthcare provider.
Will the city be tracking who does and does not get vaccinated?
No. You won't need to share your immigration status to be vaccinated. Your privacy will be protected. There are strict laws in place to ensure the confidentiality of your personal information, according to the city.
Should you get a vaccine if you already had COVID-19?
Since it is possible to get COVID-19 again, you should be vaccinated. Also, the vaccine may boost the protection your body has already built up. But, if you tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you should wait to get the vaccine, since it is unlikely that you will get COVID-19 again during this time.
Do you still need to practice social distancing after receiving the vaccine?
Yes! While the vaccines are highly effective, none are 100 percent effective, which means that COVID-19 transmission will still be possible as people are vaccinated. The CDC recommends continuing to use a face mask, washing your hands frequently and maintaining 6 feet of distance from others even after you have received both doses of the vaccine.
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