Who Qualifies For The COVID Vaccine?

Who Qualifies For The COVID Vaccine? Feature Image
February 11, 2021

There are currently two vaccines authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19: ​​​​Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines are made using messenger RNA, or mRNA, a technology that delivers genetic code to cells, and requires two shots. Both vaccines showed efficacy of over 90% preventing symptomatic COVID infection.

Many professionals have already received the COVID-19 vaccine; however, the vaccine is still widely unavailable for many people. This is because the vaccine is currently being distributed in phases. During each phase, certain individuals will have access to the vaccine beginning with the people most at risk of contracting or being exposed to the virus. 

When will you be able to get the COVID vaccine? Well, it depends on which phase you qualify for. Below are the different phases of vaccine eligibility:

Current Phase 1a

The current phase 1a makes health care workers eligible for the vaccine. This includes high-risk hospital workers, EMS workers, urgent care providers, and more. This phase all includes residents and staff in certain group living facilities. Be sure to check with your employer to see if you qualify for this phase. 

Our NYC allergists have gotten or are in the process of getting vaccinated to keep our patients safe. If you have questions about the COVID vaccine, we are happy to answer them at your next appointment.

Current Phase 1b

The current phase 1b began January 11. It includes eligibility for older adults aged 65 and older. This phase also includes grocery workers, first responders and support staff, corrections, and school staff. As of January 13, the state of New York added early intervention therapists and teachers with active service authorizations to phase 1b.

The current phase 1b also introduces availability to public transit workers and those who work in homeless shelters and other residential or supportive housing. If you qualify for this phase, you can search for a vaccination site near you here.

Current Phase 1b (Expanded)

The current phase 1b was expanded on February 2 to include essential workers. In this phase, NYC taxi and limousine commission licensed drivers may receive the COVID vaccine. Restaurant workers are also included in this phase. As indoor dining prepares to reopen in NYC, be sure to visit your nearest vaccination center if you are a restaurant worker.

Next Phase 1b

The next phase begins February 15 and makes people with underlying conditions eligible for the vaccine. People who have cancer, chronic diseases, heart conditions, neurologic conditions, and others will be able to get the vaccine. If you aren’t sure if you qualify for this phase, visit your primary care provider for guidance. Be sure to also discuss any risks of getting the COVID vaccine. 

Phase 1c

Phase 1c does not begin until at least March but may not begin until April. This phase includes other at-risk groups (to be determined by New York State) and all other essential workers. To determine your eligibility for this phase, check nyc.gov for updates. 

Phase 2

If you do not qualify for any of the above phases, the vaccine will likely be available to you beginning in summer 2021. During this time, we recommend keeping up to date with new vaccination sites near you. New York has released an app that has an “Am I Eligible?” tool designed to help residents determine their place in line for the COVID vaccine. Eligible residents will be offered a list of nearby providers who can be contacted to schedule an appointment; non-eligible residents can check their status at any time.


In the meantime, you can still protect yourself from COVID-19. This means wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting COVID tested before and after traveling. If you need a COVID test, book an appointment with NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for a rapid nasal swab test.