New York has now fully vaccinated more than 12% of its population and eligibility continued to expand on Wednesday to include more, including public-facing employees who work for non-profits or for the government.
The expansion comes as more vaccine doses are expected to flood states in the coming weeks. But there are some sectors of the economy still excluded from vaccine eligibility, including agriculture workers.
"We want to make sure our workers are protect not only for their own health and safety, but for our food supply as well," said Steve Ammerman, a spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau. "So we want to get them in line for eligibility as it continues to expand."
There are about 55,000 farm workers in New York and more expected to enter the state for the start of the spring growing season. Farms themselves are preparing to provide support for when their turn comes.
"We've had a number of farms that are willing to host vaccination clinics on site, not only for their own farm workers, but regionally, so other workers can come as well," Ammerman said.
President Joe Biden has set the goal of May 1 to make all Americans eligible for the vaccine. Some states are already moving to exceed that goal and thrown open eligibility now to all adults as more vaccines are made available.
Dr. Bonnie Litvack of the Medical Society of the State of New York says there are pitfalls to expanding vaccine access to all residents as some states have done.
"There is absolutely a tradeoff there and you want to be able to open it up to everybody," Litvack said. "That's our ultimate goal. But we do want the most vulnerable and those most at risk to get the vaccine as quickly as possible."
So far, New York has administered 7 million COVID vaccines and the percent of fully vaccinated residents has been roughly in line with large states like California, Texas, and Florida.
"Some states may get there, particularly some states that are smaller than New York," Litvack said. "But with the vaccine supply that we have, each week they're opening the spigot a little bit more."
Governor Cuomo in Harlem on Wednesday once again emphasized the need to vaccinate people of color and people living in poorer communities who may lack readily available access to the shots.