Updated: March 09, 2021 11:09 PM
Created: March 09, 2021 10:32 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester area nonprofits celebrated the news that their work could go ahead with the added protection of coronavirus vaccines.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced expanded age and occupation eligibility for who can get a vaccine in New York State.
"The pressures upon us have increased tremendously,” Mitch Gruber, Chief Strategy Officer with the Rochester nonprofit food pantry Foodlink, explained.
Gruber said Foodlink has seen incredible demand during the economic struggles triggered by the pandemic, and is on track to give out a record 26 million pounds of food this year but, at the same time, is feeling the threat of coronavirus without the vaccines.
"Every day feels more daunting when we know that so many others around us are getting vaccinated and we have not yet,” Gruber said.
So Gov. Cuomo's announcement of who's authorized to get vaccinated was welcome news.
Eligibility will now include anyone over the age of 60, as well as nonprofit and government workers who work with the public, helping needy New Yorkers.
"That includes public works people,” the governor said during a Tuesday briefing, “social service people, child service, care workers, DMV workers, a lot of the CSEA employees. Also election workers etc.”
Gruber says he plans to get his first shot on Thursday.
Food pantry workers were already lining up to get their shots. They became eligible a week earlier, on March 3 and Gruber says not being vaccinated had become a worrisome shadow over the work.
"They go around to all these different houses all the time,” Gruber said, “providing services and checking in on folks and they were beginning to feel really unsafe and uneasy themselves about continuing to go into people’s homes at this point."
The lower age limit will kick in on Wednesday while the new categories for eligible workers will start next Wednesday, March 17.
“The vaccine rollout was never going to be perfect,” Gruber said. “I certainly wish that nonprofit organizations and staff would’ve been eligible earlier.”
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