New York restaurant workers, taxi drivers now eligible for COVID vaccine

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New York restaurant workers will now be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine if local governments can spare the shots, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday — reversing his position from just a day before after the federal government said it would send more doses to states.

The governor hung a U-turn one day after saying the state couldn’t afford to make any additions to the vaccine eligibility list due to a lack of supplies — and hours after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on him to do it anyway, citing the impending resumption of indoor dining at 25 percent capacity.

Though the state controls who is eligible for the vaccine, Cuomo on Tuesday pinned responsibility on local leaders like de Blasio to make the call on if they can afford to vaccinate the newly-eligible groups.

“I’m leaving it up to the local governments to determine what fits their situation,” said Cuomo during a Tuesday press briefing in Manhattan.

Taxi drivers and the developmentally-disabled may also now receive shots, Cuomo announced.

City Hall did not immediately respond to a request asking if they would take the governor up on the offer.

Cuomo felt more comfortable taking the step after the White House announced Tuesday it’s upping its allocation of the coronavirus vaccine to states by five percent.

The extra steps to bolster the nation’s vaccine rollout comes one week after President Biden bumped up the weekly allocation from 8.6 million doses to 10 million.

“Today, we are further increasing that weekly allocation by an additional five percent,” said Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, during a virtual briefing. “So, for the next three weeks we will provide a minimum of 10.5 million in total doses per week, across all jurisdictions.”

Vaccines are allocated to states, territories and Native American tribes in proportion to their populations.

Additionally, starting Feb. 11, the feds will directly distribute 1 million vaccines to 6,500 pharmacies nationwide in an effort to make the shots more widely available, Zients said.

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities,” said Zients.

He cautioned, however, that the initial rollout would be limited in scope due to lingering supply issues.

“This initial phase of activating local pharmacies will get more shots in arms and will ensure that pharmacies have the infrastructure and the experience they need to scale up when vaccine supply increases in the months ahead,” he said. “Eventually, as we’re able to increase supply, up to 40,000 pharmacies nationwide could provide COVID-19 vaccines.”

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