QUEENS, N.Y. — New York City’s teachers union is launching a vaccination program to help educators and staff access the COVID-19 vaccine, officials announced Sunday.
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said the union created a system to connect educators and staff directly to vaccine providers.
“Thankfully we are starting the vaccination process of the UFT members,” he said during a news conference Sunday. “And more importantly, this is the beginning of getting to the end of this horrible crisis that this entire city and country and world is going through.”
The UFT is sending an email to members on Sunday, asking those who want the vaccine to sign up with the union, according to Mulgrew. The union will then use the list to directly connect members with health care providers administering the vaccine.
Teachers and staff currently working inside school buildings will be prioritized, according to Mulgrew.
“We are working with health care providers right now. We will be getting priority access for everyone who says they want a vaccine,” he said. “Our job is: People want the vaccine, we want to get them to a place that has the vaccine.”
On Tuesday, Cuomo had asked the state’s larger agencies and unions to create their own vaccination plans to take some of the burden off the government’s vaccine rollout, which has come under fire for being too slow.
Mulgrew said the UFT’s vaccine system answers the governor’s call.
“I’m here to say we did it. We did it. But we’re doing it because we need to get to the end of this pandemic. That’s what this is all about,” he said. “We also believe that we will then be taking off some of the strain on the bigger system, of the government system that has been struggling. Let’s just be honest, the government system has been struggling.”
UFT members are not mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine nor are they required to sign up for a vaccination through the union.
“I know some people don’t want it; that’s fine,” Mulrgrew said, adding that the union would work with those who are hesitant to ensure they are informed about the vaccine.
Three new vaccination hubs opened in New York City Sunday as the state prepares to expand vaccine eligibility on Monday.
New Yorkers can visit the Health Department’s vaccine locations webpage to find more locations currently administering the COVID-19 vaccine.
Before an appointment, New Yorkers will need to complete the state’s COVID-19 vaccine form in order to get vaccinated. The state requires vaccine providers to check that the form has been filled out.
Additionally, New Yorkers eligible for the vaccine because of their job must bring proof of employment, such as an employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a recent pay stub.