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Food Workers Can Now Get the COVID Vaccine. Here’s How

THE CITY’s Open Newsroom team breaks down some of the latest info about working in NYC during the pandemic. Sign up for our new jobs newsletter to get updates.

Restaurant workers rallied in Times Square, calling on state leaders to provide additional support through the winter, Dec. 15, 2020.
Restaurant workers rallied in Times Square, calling on state leaders to provide additional support through the winter, Dec. 15, 2020.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

New Yorkers were allowed to officially resume eating indoors at restaurants, in limited numbers, on Feb. 12.

Now the workers who make that possible — by preparing and serving food — are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The expansion to include restaurant, food delivery and taxi workers in the list of essential workers who can get vaccines came after THE CITY pressed Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the issue.

But even after being promised vaccines, we reported that some of these workers were having a hard time securing appointments this past week, and some were even being turned away from testing sites.

We also learned that restaurant, delivery and taxi workers are only eligible at certain kinds of testing sites. The set up may make it harder for workers without conventional documentation — among them many gig workers, like app-driven food deliverers — to prove they should be on the list to get the crucial shot.

So the process for getting vaccinated is more complicated than it seems.

Let’s break this down...

These are the workers eligible now

New York City is in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. This phase includes health care workers, nursing and group home staff, grocery and bodega workers, first responders, education staff, corrections staff, public transit workers and shelter workers.

As of Feb. 2, this list now includes restaurant, delivery and taxi workers.

You can find the full list of eligible workers here.

Note: Beginning Feb. 15, New Yorkers with certain underlying health conditions can also start getting vaccinated.

But there’s a catch: Restaurant, delivery and taxi workers can only get vaccinated at certain sites.

Restaurant, delivery and taxi workers can only be vaccinated at city-run sites or mass vaccination centers run by the state, according to Cuomo’s office. That means workers aren’t eligible to be vaccinated at privately run — and often conveniently located — facilities like a pharmacy or some health centers.

Here are the ‘certain’ sites

City- and state-run mass vaccination sites include:

A person arrives at the mass vaccination site at Citi Field in Queens, Feb. 12, 2021.
A person arrives at the mass vaccination site at Citi Field on Friday.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Citi Field in Queens is also an option but, again, it’s complicated: The ballpark opened as a vaccination site last week, with 50% of the 200 daily appointments set aside specifically for food service workers and taxi drivers, and the remaining for Queens residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. But those appointments — for food service workers and taxi drivers — are exclusively handled by the Yemeni American Merchants Association for its members and by the Taxi Limousine Commission.

You can find city-run a site using the NYC COVID Vaccine Finder. If you’re a restaurant, food deliverer or taxi driver, look for locations that start with Gotham Health, NYC Vaccine Hub, NYC Health Dept., or NYC Health + Hospitals. You can also call the city’s vaccination hotline 1-877-VAX-4NYC, which is available in English and Spanish.

Here’s how these workers can make an appointment at these sites

Again, only certain sites can help delivery, restaurant or taxi workers. To make an appointment, go to the NYC Vaccine Hub Appointment Scheduler.

If you’re a delivery, restaurant or taxi workers worker, look for locations that start with Gotham Health, NYC Vaccine Hub, NYC Health Dept., and NYC Health + Hospitals.

You can also call the city’s vaccination hotline 1-877-VAX-4NYC, which is available in English and Spanish.

You can also book an appointment for Yankee Stadium here, for the Javits Center and Aqueduct Racetrack here or call the state’s vaccination hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX, also available in several languages.

Some good Samaritans have also created websites that aggregate and check various sites for available appointments. You can find such websites here and here.

These are the documents these workers need to provide to get the vaccination

To prove eligibility, food industry and taxi workers will need a pay stub or letter from their employer showing where they work.

Note: It’s very possible that a large number of these workers may not have many of these documents — for example, they may be paid in cash or work for an app. Workers can bring a self-attested letter, which means you can write a letter for yourself. It has to include your name, where you work and a description of your job. The letter does not have to be notarized or written by a lawyer.

If a vaccination site is limited for residents of a certain area — like Yankee Stadium in The Bronx — workers will need one of the following:

  • A government issued ID
  • A copy of a lease, a rent receipt or statement from a landlord
  • Mortgage record

If those aren’t available, TWO of the following are required to prove residency:

  • Current mail, such as a cell phone or utility bill — something that displays your name and address
  • School records
  • A written statement from another person attesting to where you live

If you’re an essential worker eligible for a vaccine but have trouble getting one, our team wants to hear from you. You can email us at opennewsroom@thecity.nyc.

What else we’re reading

• THE CITY reported that vaccine outreach is not reaching a lot of bodega staff and other high risk, largely immigrant workers in the city.

• Chalkbeat reported the latest on what working parents need to know about middle schools reopening.

• The New York Times reported on the unpaid labor of Black women.

More Questions?

If you have specific questions about working or unemployment in the city during the pandemic or something else you think we should cover, let us know by emailing opennewsroom@thecity.nyc.

For more jobs, work and unemployment resources, here’s what New Yorkers who attended THE CITY’s Open Newsroom shared. If you see something you believe we should include, tell us.

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