New York State on Jan. 11 made the COVID-19 vaccine available to New Yorkers over 65, the medically fragile and essential front-line workers, including public school educators. The UFT worked with its health care partners across the city to create a vaccine distribution program just for its members. Below are answers to many common questions about immunization and the UFT’s program.
How does the union’s vaccine program work?
The UFT is matching interested in-service members with NYU Langone Health or EmblemHealth’s Advantage Care Physicians based on the availability of the vaccine, their current assignment, their home address or work site, and their willingness to travel outside their area. As providers tell us where they have available vaccines, the union works to match members who live or work close to those sites. While priority is being given to in-person school staff, those willing and able to travel outside their area may sometimes get matched first due to the location of the available vaccines. Health care providers cannot send vaccines to other sites since this is a highly regulated process.
How does an eligible UFT member join the vaccine program?
Members must submit the vaccine survey that was sent to them via email. If members did not receive the survey, they can call the UFT vaccine hotline at 212-701-9677 to request it.
I filled out the UFT survey but was not matched with a provider. How long do I have to wait?
By early February, nearly 13,000 members had been matched. The UFT is working to try to increase the number of vaccines available to educators. But due to the large demand and the national shortage of the vaccine, the union has not been able to match all interested members. The union will continue to connect members with vaccine providers as more vaccines become available.
Do I have to return to the same location to receive the second dose of the vaccine?
Yes. Since there are two different vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, it is important to return to the same location where you received your first dose to ensure you will receive the same vaccine. You will be able to schedule your second dose at your first appointment, either 21 or 28 days apart, depending on the type of vaccine you received. Remember to bring your vaccination card or record with you to your second appointment so your vaccination can be recorded.
Will school staff get time off to receive the vaccine?
The union negotiated paid release time if you are unable to schedule an appointment outside your work hours. If you need to schedule a vaccination during the workday, you will receive up to four hours of paid release time per vaccine dose. Let your principal/supervisor know as soon as you make your appointment — at least three days of advance notice is requested so appropriate coverage can be arranged. To receive paid release time, you will need to provide documentation of both your appointment and your receipt of the vaccine.
If I have side effects after taking the COVID-19 vaccine and feel sick, am I entitled to paid time off?
Yes. You can take up to eight days of excused leave at full pay for symptoms related to vaccine side effects, such as: fatigue, fever, headaches, chills and nausea. However, if you are absent for more than two days, you must provide documentation showing you took a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 diagnostic test during your leave period and the date you received your test results. You must use your CAR days for any additional time taken after receiving a negative test result or if you do not receive a COVID-19 test.
What proof do I need to bring to my appointment to show that I am eligible to receive the vaccine?
Bring proof of employment, such as an employee ID card, employer letter or a recent pay stub as well as a government-issued ID to verify your identity.
What information and paperwork will I receive at my first vaccine appointment?
You should receive a vaccination card or printout that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it and where you received it.
You will need to complete the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Form in order to get vaccinated. The state requires the provider administering the vaccine to check that you have completed the form and are eligible.
You should receive a paper or electronic version of a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you are being offered. Each authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine.
Will medical professionals be administering the vaccine and be on hand while the vaccine is being given?
Yes, medical professionals will be administering the vaccine. They will also be on hand for 15 to 30 minutes after you receive the vaccine to monitor you for any adverse reactions.
How much will the vaccine cost? Will I be charged a copay?
The vaccine is free for everyone. Your insurance may be billed by a provider, but you will not be directly charged a copay or other fee.
Thirteen thousand UFT members were matched with vaccine providers NYU Langone or EmblemHealth in the first six days of the UFT’s vaccine distribution program, eliminating the need for them to search for locations on their own. Priority is given to in-service members who currently have in-school assignments.