STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York City’s teachers union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), is launching its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine program to help its teachers and school staff gain access to the vaccine, officials announced on Sunday.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew made the announcement early Sunday morning that the union reached an agreement with major healthcare systems to expand access of eligible UFT members to the vaccine. Under the state’s phased distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, teachers are eligible in phase 1b, which begins Monday.

“Thankfully we are starting the vaccination process of the UFT members 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,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

Mulgrew said the union will send out an email to all of its members on Sunday to develop a list of who wants the vaccine immediately, prioritizing personnel with a current in-school assignment. The UFT will then coordinate with participating healthcare institutions to ensure teachers and other members willing to be vaccinated can do so as soon as possible.

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“We want to make sure that there are no more vaccines left on shelves. We want to make sure that vaccines are being utilized at all times, that we have to be efficient and effective so starting this afternoon, there will be an email going out to every UFT member in the city of New York. We are asking all of them who want to have the vaccine; we will have a list. We are working with health care providers right now. We will be getting priority access for everyone who says that they want a vaccine and we are going to make sure that the vaccines are getting utilized quickly…” Mulgrew said.

The UFT president pointed to the start of the pandemic last March when the union had to fight to close schools, had its teachers educate students in a remote learning setting, and then spend the entire summer of 2020 figuring out a plan to reopen schools safely for the 2020-2021 school year.

“All of this has been done for one reason and one reason only — to figure out a way to continue to support the children of New York City and get to the end of this pandemic,” Mulgrew said. “And that’s why this is so important in what is happening here today. Now we have to move much faster. Much faster. So to the governor and his staff I say we have met your challenge. You challenged us — we have done it.”

New York City school nurse and UFT school nurse chapter leader Cynthia Bennett receives her coronavirus vaccine. (Courtesy/UFT)

City school nurse and UFT school nurse chapter leader Cynthia Bennett, who received the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, said it’s important to get the vaccine because it will help bring back some normalcy.

“It’s important, we need to see the end is near,” Bennett said. “It’s the easiest way and the most efficient way to bring an end and combat this terrible, terrible pandemic we’re experiencing now.”

Others eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1b are first responders; public safety workers; public transit workers; people ages 75 and older. Other frontline essential workers and other at-risk groups could be identified by the state during the rollout of Phase 1b, according to the state.

STATEN ISLAND VACCINATION LOCATIONS

A number of vaccination hubs were announced this week for Staten Island, however, due to high demand appointments have so far been scarce.

Locations named by the city so far include:

NYC Health + Hospitals Gotham/Vanderbilt clinic, located at 165 Vanderbilt Ave., CliftonThe Beacon Christian Community Health Center, located at 2079 Forest Ave., Mariners HarborAdvantageCare Physicians, located at 4771 Hylan Blvd., AnnadaleGoHealth Urgent Care, located at 4316 Amboy Rd., EltingvilleAdvantageCare Physicians, located at 1050 Clove Rd., SunnysidePort Richmond High School, located at 85 St. Joseph’s Ave., Port Richmond (opens next week)Susan Wagner High School, located at 1200 Manor Road in Sea View (opens Monday)

For city workers only:

Staten Island Technical High School, located at 485 Clawson St., New Dorp (opens next week)

The mayor said Friday that he expects to announce Staten Island’s mass vaccination site, which would be open 24 hours a day, in the coming week, and Cuomo said on Friday that the state expects some pharmacies will begin to administer the vaccine in the coming week.

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