The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has announced that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for its workforce has begun. More than 126 employees received vaccinations on January 13, the first day of the rollout, with plans to vaccinate thousands more in the coming weeks.
“This vaccine is our best shot at ending this pandemic once and for all,” said Patrick Warren, MTA Chief Safety & Security Officer. “Health experts assure that the vaccine is safe and effective. I am grateful that our workforce, who showed up for work day in and day out at the height of the pandemic, is being prioritized in the vaccine rollout and this time showing up to get their shot. We applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health for their leadership, and look forward to working together to vaccinate the frontline heroes of this pandemic.”
MTA employees are included in priority group 1b of the vaccine’s eligibility. The Javits Center, where the workforce were first vaccinated on January 13, is one of three state-run vaccination sites that have begun opening across the state in an effort to expedite the vaccination rate, including the Westchester County Center and New York State Fair Expo Center. The Authority plans to roll out an MTA vaccination program in the coming weeks to vaccinate as many members of its workforce as quickly as possible.
In an op-ed for NY Daily News, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye and Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano wrote to assure workers of the safety of the vaccine and to encourage them to take up this opportunity to beat COVID-19.
“We saw some essential workers reject the shot; we strongly encourage workers not to do that. This is just too important, especially for those among us living with underlying health conditions that can increase the severity of illness caused by COVID-19,” they wrote.
“We are comforted by the fact that the data has been quite clear. Clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective — 95% effective in fact. They are not made of materials that can cause disease, and while there may be modest short-term side effects, medical experts have made clear that these effects are the body’s way of signaling that the vaccine is starting to work. No serious long-term issues related to the vaccines have been reported to date.
“The bottom line is that this is our shot — literally — to beat this virus. We can’t pass it up. We’ve come too far and it is transit workers who have carried this region through the pandemic on their backs.”
The vaccination program being planned is yet another example of the MTA’s commitment to undertaking important and pioneering initiatives to protect its workforce.
From the onset of the pandemic the Authority has been at the forefront of protective efforts for employees, with nation and industry-leading efforts including free and convenient screenings at work sites throughout the service region, free access to COVID-19 testing at partnering health care facilities, the deployment of a first-in-the-nation temperature brigade, the installation of plexiglass and vinyl barriers on buses and in select work locations, testing of cutting-edge technologies to clean and disinfect, as well as providing free and convenient flu shots to thousands of workers to date.
The MTA has distributed more than 13 million masks, more than 16 million pairs of gloves, 98,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, close to 11 million individual sanitizing wipes, 235,000 gallons of cleaning solution and more than 16,000 face shields to its workforce since the beginning of the pandemic.