After union pressure, state opens up vaccine eligibility for all public-facing workers
ALBANY — In a move CSEA had been pushing for, last month New York State expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include all essential front-facing public workers.
This corrected the disparity that had existed for many essential workers who had previously been excluded, despite continuing to put their own safety at risk providing direct services to the public throughout the pandemic. Those workers included Department of Motor Vehicles workers; highway and public works employees; sanitation workers, social services workers and many other essential workers.
“Since the start of this pandemic, essential frontline public workers risked their own safety and the safety of their families to make sure our state and local governments keep providing needed services to all New Yorkers,” said CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan. “We are gratified these workers are now eligible for the vaccine. They deserve to be protected so that New York can fully and safely reopen.”
New York’s vast distribution network and large population of eligible individuals still far exceed the supply coming from the federal government. Due to this limited supply, New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and are advised not to show up at vaccination sites without an appointment.
Eligible New Yorkers will be able to schedule appointments at state vaccination sites by utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ website or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).
New law allows paid time off for getting vaccinated against COVID-19
ALBANY — Workers who get vaccinated against COVID-19 during scheduled work hours will get paid to do so, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed new legislation into law.
The law, which took effect immediately, covers all public and private sector employees, granting them up to four hours of paid time off during scheduled work hours per injection of the COVID-19 vaccination, including travel time, without needing to charge their accruals. CSEA supported this legislation.
Union members wishing to take advantage of the paid leave should contact their human resources or personnel office to determine how to file the appropriate documentation.
Sullivan encourages members to get vaccinated
ALBANY — CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan recently got her COVID-19 vaccination, and she encourages her CSEA sisters and brothers to do the same.
For months, CSEA’s Occupational Safety and Health Department has been providing union members facts surrounding the vaccines that are available, and the science behind them. Union leadership has been assured of the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and want members to be protected in their workplaces.
“As your CSEA President, I want you to know that I got vaccinated against COVID-19, and although it’s a personal decision, I encourage you to join me in doing so,” Sullivan said. “It is our way out of this pandemic. It is the only way we can truly return to safe workplaces where all members are protected, and fully reopen our workplaces, businesses, schools and society.”
“With more vaccines becoming available, and paid leave time to get them, I would encourage all union members to get vaccinated,” Sullivan said. “If the majority of us get vaccinated, we will be able to return our lives to the new normal.”
State opens more vaccination sites, more New Yorkers eligible
ALBANY — In the last month, New York has strongly ramped up efforts to get residents vaccinated against the pandemic that shut down our state and country for the past year.
The state’s push for vaccination will allow workplaces, businesses and our communities to more safely reopen.
It started with more vaccines being delivered to New York, thanks in part to federal efforts to increase production and boost supplies, as well as new vaccines becoming approved and available.
Next, the state started opening more vaccination sites. As this edition went to press, 10 new state-run mass vaccination sites were opened, each with the ability to vaccinate more than 1,000 people a day, dependent on supply.
That network joined an already large distribution network of 13 previously opened state-run mass vaccination sites, six joint state- FEMA community-based vaccination sites, a Yankee Stadium mass vaccination site and more than 145 community-based pop-up sites, with more to follow.
Also as this edition went to press, New York allowed pharmacies to start vaccinating people with comorbidities, in addition to teachers and people over age 60.
Editor’s Note: Shortly after this edition went to press, New York opened up eligibility to all New Yorkers age 30 and older, as of March 30, 2021. As of April 6, 2021, all New York age 16 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
CSEA safety professionals offer updated vaccine guidance
Since vaccines started coming online, more than 1,400 CSEA members have taken advantage of the expertise of our union’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Department to get the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines.
As part of our union’s efforts to help safely reopen our state and counter misinformation about the vaccines, CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan tasked the union’s OSH Department with educating members with factual and unbiased information about the vaccine’s safety, efficacy and the state’s rollout plan.
Based on their more than 25 years’ experience in infectious diseases and infection control, OSH Department staff developed a combination of live and pre-recorded webinars, available to all CSEA members. Most recently, the department updated the webinar to include information about the newly approved vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
Members seeking factual information about the vaccines can access the on-demand webinar through a link at: https://cseany.org/coronavirus-information.
Top caption: Shanna Siegel, a public health nurse with the Putnam County Department of Health, prepares a vial filled with the COVID-19 vaccine that pharmaceutical company Pfizer developed.