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Cuomo: Local governments will decide if restaurant workers, others get vaccine

Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Restaurant workers, taxi drivers and developmentally disabled people living in congregate settings will now be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday, as long as local governments allow them to be added to the list.

Cuomo said he’ll leave the decision up to local health officials around the state on whether those populations will be eligible for the vaccine based on their own priorities.

The addition comes after a reporter asked Cuomo on Monday why the state would allow indoor dining in New York City to reopen, but not allow workers in the industry to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Cuomo said Monday there weren't enough doses for those workers.

That changed Tuesday, after Cuomo received word from the Biden administration that New York would receive an additional 5% of vaccine doses over the next three weeks.

"We're getting more ... and we're getting more for the pharmacies,” Cuomo said. “So now there's additional flexibility and I'm leaving it up to the local governments of making the determination of what fits their situation best."

Private pharmacies are also expected to get a boost in vaccine supply from the federal government going forward, Cuomo said, which means more appointments will be available for individuals currently eligible for the vaccine.

But it will largely be up to local governments as to whether restaurant workers, taxi drivers and developmentally disabled people in group homes will become eligible, Cuomo said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for his part, said Tuesday that he thought restaurant workers should be eligible for the vaccine.

“We have to protect the people who work in our restaurants,” De Blasio said, adding that he believed his position would move state health officials.

When asked if the mayor’s comments influenced his decision on allowing restaurant workers to be eligible for the vaccine, Cuomo said the change was made entirely based on his call with the White House earlier Tuesday.

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