New York COVID-19 Response

After several weeks of increasing COVID-19 numbers during the holiday season, it seems that New York’s numbers have begun to stabilize. The Governor has made it clear that the State has now turned the majority of its focus to the vaccination process throughout the State. During a press conference earlier this month, the Governor said that the distribution of the vaccination in nursing homes and hospitals has been disappointingly slow. Because of this, the Governor made several announcements aimed at speeding up and increasing efficiency in the vaccination process.

First, the Governor announced that the State would be stepping into the federal nursing home program to ensure that all residents and staff in nursing homes receive the first dose of the COVID vaccine by mid-to-late January. The State Department of Health has also stepped into the hospital vaccine distribution process by issuing new “Use It or Lose It” regulations, which provide that:

  • Any provider must use vaccine inventory within 7-days of receipt;
  • Providers can be disqualified from future distribution;
  • Providers seriously deficient can be subject to fines and/or more serious sanctions.

The Governor also announced that, over the coming weeks, the State will be drastically expanding the distribution network to include doctor networks, FQHCs, County Health Departments, ambulatory centers, and pharmacies. The State will also be opening 20 mass distribution centers, which will include the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Westchester County Convention Center, the State Fairgrounds, and others that will open in the weeks to come. This expansion will see the opening of thousands of new providers able to vaccinate eligible residents, and will also include the State expanding the pool of individuals eligible to administer the vaccine to include:

  • Licensed practical nurses;
  • Pharmacists;
  • Pharmacy Technicians;
  • Midwives;
  • Dentists;
  • Certain dental hygienists;
  • Podiatrists;
  • Emergency Medical Technicians;
  • Certain eligible students.

With the distribution network drastically expanding, the State has also expanded the group of individuals eligible to receive the vaccine. Currently, groups 1a and 1b are now eligible to receive the vaccine. Individuals within groups 1a and 1b include:

  • Patient-facing hospital healthcare workers;
  • Nursing home and assisted living facility residents & staff;
  • Federally Qualified Health Center employees;
  • EMT volunteers and staff;
  • Coroners, Medical Examiners, certain funeral workers;
  • OPWDD & OMH facility staff & residents;
  • OASAS facility staff & residents;
  • Urgent Care Center employees;
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff;
  • Ambulator centers’ staff;
  • Home care and hospice workers;
  • Other congregate setting staff & residents
  • Individuals 65 and older;
  • First Responders & Support Staff of First Responder Agencies;
  • Public Safety Communications;
  • Other Sworn & Civilian Personnel;
  • Corrections personnel;
  • P-12 Schools faculty & staff;
  • In-person college instructors;
  • Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers;
  • Public Transit workers;
  • Individuals living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals & families who are not part of the same household.

While the group of eligible individuals have expanded to around 7 million New Yorkers, not every individual will be able to get a vaccine immediately. Individuals will need to go online to find the providers in their area that are administering the vaccine, and will then need to call to make an appointment. Individuals in group 1a will be prioritized, meaning individuals within group 1b may have to schedule appointments that are weeks or even months away, based on the provider’s vaccine supply and how many individuals in group 1a have already called to make appointments. The State has setup a website where individuals can determine their eligibility, see their local providers, and schedule appointments. You can find the website here: