New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is announcing plans for Phase two of the distribution of the new COVID-19 vaccine in the state, which includes designating regional hospitals to act as coordinators for administering the shots.

While over 87,000 doses have arrived and are being given to front-line health care workers, local hospitals will be leading the Phase two initiative to get shots to essential workers and at-risk members of the general public.

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United Health Services is the Southern Tier Hub coordinator. SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse has been designated the coordinator for Central New York.

The hub coordinators are to submit their distribution plans that are being put together with local stake-holders including community and government leaders to the New York State Department of Health for approval to implement when the vaccines arrive early next year.

Governor Cuomo says its essential that residents have trust that the vaccine is safe and effective.

To work toward a goal of a majority of the population getting a vaccine to achieve the immunity levels needed to defeat the virus, a new website is available for New Yorkers to get the facts about vaccinations and up to date information on where and how the shots will be administered. The site is www.ny.gov/vaccine.

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The Governor says all New Yorkers will be able to get the vaccine at no cost.  The state Department of Financial Services has issued a letter to state-regulated health insurers directing them to immediately cover, without cost-sharing, approved COVID-19 immunizations and their administration. Cuomo says the directive prohibits residents from being charged for things like gloves, masks or other personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses or personnel fees supposedly associated with administering the vaccination.

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While a lot of hope is being put in the vaccine, there are several months ahead before everyone can be vaccinated and potentially protected from developing severe illness due to the coronavirus.  Cuomo and health experts say it remains essential that everyone continue to wear masks and facial coverings, maintain physical distancing and frequently wash hands and disinfect surfaces.

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