The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in New York

Posted on 02/26/21 by Catherine Maddux

 En español | Who can get vaccinated now? 

  • New York residents age 65-plus, first responders and frontline essential workers (Phase 1B)

  • Residents and staff of nursing homes, long-term care and skilled nursing facilities, and high-risk health care workers (Phase 1A)

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • State-run vaccination sites: Use the state health department’s online tool to find vaccination sites and book appointments or call the state vaccine hotline: 1-833-697-4829
  • Pop-up & community vaccine sites: There are 35 pop up community-based sites across the state. Use this online tool to find appointments in New York City. 

  • Mass vaccination sites: Two mass vaccination sites are open at York College in Jamaica, Queens, and at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Eligible New Yorkers can schedule appointments for these sites by utilizing the 'Am I Eligible' website or by calling 1-833-697-4829. The Javits Center in Manhattan is also offering vaccines by appointment only on the New York state online locator. Appointments are also available for online registration at the William F. Ryan Community Health Center in New York City and the Open Door Family Medical Center in Ossining, New York. Yankee Stadium is offering vaccines to Bronx residents. Schedule appointments online or or call 1-833-766-6769. Four other mass vaccination sites are set to open on March 3: the New York National Guard Armory in Yonkers, the former Kodak Hawkeye Lot in Rochester, the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo and the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany.
  • A federally-backed online tool called Vaccine Finder lets you search for vaccination sites by zip code, with links to appointments. 
  • Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.
New York City Opens Javits Convention Center As Vaccination Site

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at  increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.  

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are eligible due to an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible on the basis of your work, bring proof of employment such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?   

Immunocompromised New Yorkers are eligible to get vaccinated starting Feb. 15 at state-run mass vaccinations sites. It's not yet clear when other adults will be eligible for vaccination. 

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death. 

How will nursing homes and other long-term care residents get the vaccine?  

Residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being vaccinated through a federal program that has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to offer the shots at such facilities at no cost. New York is participating in the program. CVS and Walgreens have finished offering first doses to all staff and residents of nursing homes and are now giving second doses. They are also now offering first-dose clinics at assisted living facilities nationwide. 

I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.  

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider stating when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.

Under New York’s interim distribution plan, your entire immunization process will be tracked by a statewide database known as NYSIIS, the New York State Immunization Information System.  It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?   

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example). 

New York health insurers have been directed by state officials to immediately cover, without cost-sharing, approved COVID-19 immunizations and their administration. 

There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.  

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?  

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection the vaccines provide under “real-world conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose of a vaccine. The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity, and it continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing.     

In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection. 

This guide was originally published in December 2020. It was updated on Feb. 27 with new information on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Also of Interest:  

• What Is Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments?   
• How Vaccination Will Work in Nursing Homes   
• Read our full coronavirus coverage  

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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