by DARIEN LAMEN
(ROCHESTER, NY) New York State has given the green light to begin the latest phase of COVID vaccinations this week.
Beginning Monday, January 11, a wide range of people with higher exposure risks will be eligible to receive the vaccine. They include:
Pre-K through 12 teachers and staff
Childcare providers at licensed facilities
Bus drivers and airport workers
Grocery store clerks who interact with the public
People living or working in homeless shelters with shared sleeping areas and bathrooms
In-person college instructors
First responders and support staff
People 75 and older
Vaccinations are by appointment only. Different groups will be able to access the vaccines in different ways, the New York State Department of Health says.
Healthcare workers who were part of the first phase of the vaccine roll out will continue being vaccinated at hospitals and other clinical settings.
People 75 and older will be able to access vaccines at select retail pharmacies. Starting at 4pm Monday, January 11, these individuals can call the NYS COVID Vaccination Hotline ( 1-833-NYS-4-VAX) to make an appointment, or use an online prescreening tool to find a location.
NYS expects that public employees including police officers and teachers will be vaccinated through employer health programs or as organized by unions.
People will need to fill out a form with New York State and bring proof of eligibility to the vaccination site, which may include "an employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status."
Local officials say they're encouraged by the announcement of the latest phase in New York State's COVID vaccine roll-out. Critics say the first phase was hampered by Governor Cuomo's rigid and punitive approach to access, which included threat of hefty fines and loss of medical licenses for facilities that allowed people to jump the line.
But while the new development is hopeful, officials warn that people who get appointments this week, shouldn't be surprised if they have to wait a while to get the first course of the vaccination.
In the meantime, the prescription remains the same: mask up and keep your distance.
-- DARIEN LAMEN is news director/producer for Reclaiming the Narrative. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org