This Is How New York Will Distribute the Vaccine

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Everything you need to know about the state’s plan to get vaccinations to every New Yorker as soon as one is available.

Update 3/29: Meeting federal mandate, New York will open vaccine eligibility to all residents age 30 and older beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 30. This will expand again next week on Tuesday, April 6 to include all residents 16 and older.


Update 3/22: Eligibility has now expanded to include all New Yorkers 50 and older, regardless of preexisting conditions or comorbidities.

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Update 3/12/21: All New Yorkers are now guaranteed up to 4 hours of excused leave from work to receive their vaccinations, per appointment.


Update 3/10/21: Effective today, vaccine eligibility is expanded to include any New Yorker 60 or older. Beginning March 17, eligibility will expand again to include public-facing essential workers in governmental, nonprofit, and building services roles.


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2/26/2021: As available vaccine doses increase, hotel workers may now be added to the current phase 1B eligibility pool.


Update 2/12/21: Restaurant workers, taxi drivers, and anyone with developmental disabilities have been added to phase 1B.


Update 1/18/21: To better align with CDC guidelines, New York has expanded the qualified list of recipients in Phase “1B” to include teachers and care providers, as well as those 65 or older. 1b had previously included only those individuals 75 or older.

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To check your eligibility, visit New York Stages Am I Eligible tool.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo this weekend unveiled the state’s drafted guidelines from the Department of Health on how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed, ensuring that every New Yorker who wants one will have access, starting with the most vulnerable.

The Vaccine Administration Program is a 96-page document — which you can read in full here —developed in consultation with leading health experts and clinicians and covers distribution methods and prioritization for any vaccine, its administration at approved sites, public outreach and education, data reporting, and even the technology necessary to track and execute the operation.

“We are coming up with a plan on many presumptions,” says Governor Cuomo. While the federal government is in charge of development and distribution of the virus, the state will be in charge of ensuring safe and effective administration. “States cannot do this on their own. Period.”

“We don’t know how many doses we’re going to get,” he adds. “We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it.” As a result, the plan breaks down regional populations into six different groups based on matter of priority, and 5 sub-groups for each to most efficiently vaccinate by order of need.

New York State Department of Health

High-risk populations and essential healthcare workers in high- and low-infection rate areas will constitute Priority 1 and 2 groups. Lower risk populations and other essential workers within those locations will comprise Priority 3 and 4, with the remaining general populations will make up Priority 5 and 6.

If needed, these groups can be broken down further to ensure that a vaccine is administered to the most in-need groups first and then disseminated to others based on availability:

Phase 1 – Healthcare workers in patient care, with priority to ICU, ED, EMS, etc.; long-term care facility workers who interact with residents regularly; most at-risk patients in long-term care

Phase 2 – First responders, teachers and school staff, childcare providers, public health workers, other frontline workers (pharmacists, grocers, transit workers, etc.) who interact with the public, other long-term care facility workers, members of the public at high-risk due to health

Phase 3 – Anyone 65 and older or under 65 with health risks

Phase 4 – All other essential workers

Phase 5 – Healthy adults and children

The plan also acknowledges that its comprehensive approach is a result of the sheer number of unknowns involved ahead of any vaccine’s release, including lack of guidance from the federal government on response, rollout, or even who and how a vaccine will be paid for.

Consequently, the draft includes provisions for an independent Clinical Advisory Task Force to help determine the efficacy and safety of any vaccine, chaired and staffed by seven New York doctors representing The Rockefeller University, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Mount Sinai’s School of Medicine, and more.

Per the CDC, the draft anticipates any vaccine will be provided to Americans at no cost, but makes allowances that it may have to procure additional equipment and address how providers will bill insurance providers to ensure recipients do not encounter any related fees.

A post-vaccination reporting system will also allow recipients of the vaccine to report any negative effects they experience.

“This is a massive undertaking,” says Governor Cuomo. “This is a larger operational undertaking than anything we have done under COVID to date. This is a more complicated undertaking and task and we need the federal government to be a competent partner with this state and with every state.”

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