UFT President Michael Mulgrew announced today that the union had reached an agreement with major healthcare systems to expand the access of eligible UFT members to the coronavirus vaccine.
Under the agreement, the UFT will survey all its members to develop a list of those who want the vaccine immediately, prioritizing personnel with a current in-school assignment.
The union will then coordinate with the participating health care institutions to ensure that teachers and other members willing to be vaccinated can do so as soon as possible at convenient locations in the metropolitan area.
Mr. Mulgrew said: “Thousands of vaccine doses sit idle, or are even wasted, as the current system leaves health care providers waiting and hoping for eligible recipients to show up. We are creating a pool of members who opt-in, who want the vaccine, and then will match them to providers who have vaccines available.”
UFT members will get an email Sunday night asking those who want the vaccine to sign up for the program. The UFT is also talking to other healthcare providers who may want to take part in the initiative.
Coronavirus vaccine distribution has been lagging around the nation, including in New York State, with government and healthcare providers trading blame for the slow roll-out.
Eligibility for the vaccine in New York had been confined to health care personnel, but last week Governor Cuomo announced that teachers, police, firefighters, other first responders, and public transit workers and would be eligible, along with people 75 or older.
Mulgrew added: “Although our agreement with the providers will make it easier for our teachers to get the vaccine, the limits on the state’s supply will mean that not everyone who wants the vaccine will be able to get it immediately. Increasing the national supply will be one of the first priorities of the Biden administration.”
Under current federal guidelines, New York State is allocated 300,000 vaccine doses a week, but the new standards mean that more than three million have people in the state have now become eligible.
On Saturday, a Biden spokesperson announced that the incoming national administration would speed up the distribution of the vaccine by immediately releasing most of the national reserve of doses to the states.