Gov. Andrew Cuomo got what he wanted and New Yorkers got what they needed Tuesday when municipalities and local governments across the state got permission to expand COVID vaccine eligibility to other groups of prioritized essential workers after President Joe Biden announced the federal government would increase weekly vaccine allocation to states.
The increase will bring New York’s weekly shipment to the totals promised, but not delivered, under President Donald Trump. We see this as a fair and equitable arrangement.
Local governments will expand COVID vaccine eligibility to taxi drivers, restaurant workers and staff in developmentally disabled facilities — a subject of demand by advocates — in the coming weeks after the Biden administration announced Tuesday states would receive a 20% increase in their weekly vaccine supply over the next three weeks — up from 16% that federal officials promised to states last week.
About 7.1 million New Yorkers are eligible to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated. They include health care workers, police, firefighters and other first responders, teachers and people over 65. New York received about 250,000 doses of the COVID vaccine each week for most of January, but this quantity represented 50,000 fewer doses than the anticipated 300,000 in each federal shipment.
The state received its expected 300,000 weekly doses, distributed by the federal government based on population, in late December. A 20% increase of 250,000 is 50,000, returning New York’s weekly vaccine shipments to expected December totals.
If vaccine supplies were left at current levels, the state would run the risk of depleting its stock. This, in turn, would leave an important cross-section of essential workers vulnerable. Expanding eligibility will greatly help first responders. Vaccines for the poor ought not to be far behind.