One month into 2021 and nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccination is on everyone’s mind. Where do I get it? Am I eligible? Who is distributing it? All of these questions are slowly but surely being answered, whether by New York State officials, Governor Cuomo himself or the various hospitals that have all joined in on the significant undertaking. Here is what we know so far.
As of today, anyone who is 65 or older, immunosuppressed or pregnant is eligible to receive the first dose. Also, anyone who has comorbidities (such as cancer or a heart condition) is likewise eligible. Following recent announcements that federal supply will match state demand, the list was recently expanded to include the developmentally disabled, teachers, first responders, public safety and transit workers, and individuals in professions that require them to repeatedly come into contact with others (including all termed “essential workers”). In New York, this amounts to around 7 million individuals. 
The newly expanded list comes into effect on February 15th, when individuals in the listed group may sign up to be vaccinated at their local hospital or vaccination site. For example, Queens residents will have access to vaccines at the Citi Field mega vaccination site. Vaccines will be distributed over the course of several weeks and will not be immediately available all at once. Governor Cuomo indicated that individuals in the newly added group–termed “Tier 1B”–will be in the vaccination process for up to three months, signaling that the rollout effort will take some time. Moreover, this appears to indicate that for the remaining 15 million New Yorkers, vaccination (and herd immunity) may be quite a while away. 
As it has become clear that the rollout process will be a prolonged effort, many are eyeing state and federal institutions. Governor Cuomo was quick to note that the slow rollout and pauses on distribution were a result of the Trump administration’s purported failure to adequately secure enough doses in preparation of rollout plans nationwide, primarily “[because] they created such a demand and they never increased the supply.”  Cuomo himself has faced criticism for his choice to “side-step public-health experts” in some distribution decisions.  In any case, the public has been quite clear on its position: the rollout must happen as efficiently and fairly as possible.
With respect to fairness, while institutions appear to be strictly honoring need-based distribution, demographic disparities have yet to be properly addressed, according to the New York Times.  Though LatinX and Black individuals are the demographic groups that are most affected by COVID-19 and respectively make up 29 and 24 percent of New York City’s population, only 15 and 11 percent respectively have been vaccinated.  These disparities have been acknowledged by the Mayor’s office and will hopefully be addressed in the distribution effort to come.
Eligible individuals may sign up at the NYS online portal and the NYC COVID Vaccine Finder portal. You may also call this hotline: 1-833-697-4829. Immediately after receiving the first dose, you will be able to schedule the second dose with your provider. This is required of all providers in New York.
 – Steib, Matt, “How to Sign Up for a COVID Vaccine in New York,” Intelligencer, 8 Feb. 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/covid-vaccine-new-york.html#_ga=2.252467594.225175150.1612886113-1299961532.1612282303, acc. 9 Feb. 2021.
 – Ibid.
 – Ibid.
 – Ibid.
 – Hong, Nicole and Delkic, Melina, “N.Y.C. Postpones Vaccine Appointments As Winter Storm Approaches,” The New York Times, 31 Jan. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/world/nyc-vaccine-appointments-snow.html, acc. 9 Feb. 2021.
 – Ibid.