NY bodega workers, owners get 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines from the state


NEW YORK — Bodega workers in New York City have a new way to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The state has allocated 1,000 Johnson & Johnson shots for two unions representing bodega owners and their employees, according to the unions.

Fernando Mateo, a spokesman for United Bodegas of America who is also running for mayor, said on Sunday that the allocation is meaningful to front-line workers who have risked exposure to the virus for over a year.

“We are grateful that the allocation of 1,000 vaccines has come through for Bodega Owners & YAMA members. We were able to secure these vaccines for hard working men and women who put their lives on the line during the height of this pandemic to feed our communities,” Mateo said. “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Public-facing grocery store workers — including those employed at convenience stores, bodegas, regional food banks, food pantries and permitted home-delivered meal programs — are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under state guidelines. 

UBA President Radhames Rodriguez said they were notified by the governor’s office earlier this week that the state would make the shots directly available to the unions.

“We have started the arduous work of scheduling appointments for our members and their employees immediately,” Rodriguez said. 

Members of the UBA and the Yemeni American Merchants Association can register with the organizations to receive a Johnson & Johnson shot. Bodega owners and workers can schedule an appointment by emailing the UBA at mamayor0307@yahoo.com or YAMA at info@yamausa.org.

Anyone unable to schedule an appointment through the unions can set up a vaccination through the state or New York City.

Dr. Debbie Almontaser, cofounder of YAMA, lauded the vaccine allotment.

“The Yemeni American Merchants Association (YAMA) is proud to stand with our sister organization United Bodega of America to ensure our members get vaccinated as essential workers on the front line,” Almontaser said in a statement. “They have sacrificed and suffered greatly and now the time has come for them to get the health relief they deserve.”

To date, more than 3.2 million New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Despite the vaccine push, New York is currently ranked No. 2 in new infections per capita among U.S. states.

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