Earlier this week, Washington, D.C. announced that it expects restaurant workers to begin receiving the vaccine by February 1.
During the week of February 1, officials said “D.C. residents with chronic medical conditions and other essential workers” will start receiving the vaccine. The timeline is in accordance with CDC guidelines, which placed “other essential workers,” including food and drink employees, in Phase 1c, in addition to other categories such as construction, media, legal, and energy. Those who live in Maryland and Virginia, but work as essential employees in D.C., will be eligible.
The news comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers will be allowed to mandate COVID vaccinations and that they can prevent unvaccinated workers from entering the workplace if appropriate accommodations cannot be made.
Other metro areas have been less definitive. New York’s plan calls for “all other essential workers” to receive the vaccine in Phase 4, behind healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, grocery store employees, individuals over 65 and those under 65 but with high-risk conditions. However, it is unclear when that phase will start in the Empire State.
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States are having a difficult time getting through the initial phases of vaccinating frontline healthcare workers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday 900,000 vaccines have been distributed for 2.1 million healthcare workers—fewer than half of what’s needed.
“The supply rate has to increase, and the supply rate is the limiting factor now,” Cuomo said during a press conference. “I’ve been talking to the federal government about this. There’s possibilities that they’re working on. … We hope, pray, and expect the supply from the federal government will be increasing.”
Chicago officials said on Tuesday that foodservice employees in hospitals will receive the vaccine, but restaurant workers won’t begin receiving doses until at least February. She said that at the current rate, it would take a year and a half to vaccinate every Chicago resident. According to the City of Chicago website, more than 36,000 have been vaccinated as of Tuesday.
“We have got to get more vaccine,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a press conference. “We can’t create an expectation of hope for people and not be able to deliver. That would be the worst kind of cruelty that could be created.”