New Yorkers now know how long they will have to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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On Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State Department of Health has released a draft COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program that will serve as an initial framework for ensuring the safe and effective distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine in New York.

"We are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don't know how many doses we're going to get. We don't know what vaccine we're going to get. We don't know when we're going to get it. The state will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccine and distributing the vaccines," Cuomo said. "States cannot do this on their own. Period. This is a massive undertaking. 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."

The draft program was developed in consultation with leading clinical and public health experts, and requires collaboration and partnership with local departments of health, community partners and organizations, and the federal government, officials say.

Given the many unknowns at this point in the vaccine development process, the draft New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program is designed to be flexible and account for multiple variables and scenarios regarding vaccine availability, timeline for vaccine approval, delineation of federal and state responsibilities, funding, supply chain needs, and allocation requirements, according to Cuomo's office.

Following the determination that the vaccine is safe and effective, the draft Vaccination Program prioritizes vaccination recipients based on science, clinical expertise, and public health. The plan puts forward the following proposed prioritization matrix to ensure those most at risk and essential workers are priority recipients, with particular attention paid to those living in communities with the highest COVID prevalence.

High-Risk Populations/ Essential Healthcare Workers

  • High COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 1
  • Low COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 2

Lower-Risk Populations/ Essential Healthcare Workers

  • High COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 3
  • Low COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 5

General Population

  • High COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 5
  • Low COVID-19 Prevalence in Geographic Area: Priority 6

The draft plan also places New Yorkers into phases for who will receive a vaccine first:

Phase 1

  • Healthcare workers (clinical and non-clinical) in patient care settings (ICU, ED, EMS top priority)
  • Long-term care facility workers who regularly interact with residents
  • Most at-risk long-term care facility patients

Phase 2

  • First responders (fire, police, national guard)
  • Teachers/school staff (in-person instructions), childcare providers
  • Public Health workers
  • Other essential frontline workers that regularly interact with public (pharmacists, grocery store workers, transit employees, etc.) or maintain critical infrastructure
  • Other long-term care facility patients and those living in other congregate settings
  • Individuals in general population deemed particularly high risk due to comorbidities and health conditions

Phase 3

  • Individuals over 65
  • Individuals under 65 with high-risk

Phase 4

  • All other essential workers

Phase 5

  • Healthy adults and children


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