Library Workers and COVID-19 Vaccination

This page provides updates on this rapidly evolving situation.

NYLA supports the inclusion of library workers, with varied but direct contact with the general public, in Phase 1b of eligibility for the coronavirus vaccination. 

March 9

Throughout the last few months, NYLA and our members have advocated for library workers to be considered in the same eligibility class as essential retail workers. We have a few exciting updates to share regarding vaccine eligibility.

Beginning on March 17th, nonprofit workers who are public-facing, public employees who are public-facing, essential workers who are public-facing, and public-facing building workers will also be eligible to make a vaccination appointment.

Based on our understanding of this guidance, all library workers will be eligible to apply for vaccination appointments beginning on March 17.

Worth noting: Starting tomorrow (March 10), all individuals who are 60+ are eligible to register for a vaccine appointment starting at 8AM.

Thank you to all who have advocated for vaccine eligibility for library workers!

March 1

Individuals wish to continue to advocate on the local level, below is a document that includes the language from the February petition.

Library Worker Vaccination Letter Template (doc)

Letters can be directed to County Department of Health Offices

February 8

NYLA has put forwarded an online petition to gather support for the inclusion of library workers in Phase 1B.  Signatures were collected through Friday, February 19.

The petition was signed by 2,883 individuals.  A follow-up letter, along with a roster of the petition signatures, was sent to the Governor and NYS Department of Health.

January 13

NYLA has issued the following letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner - New York State Department of Health regarding the Phase 1b definition to include front-line library workers to those who have access to the COVID-19 Vaccine. Available here

January 10

Phase Specifics:
Phased Distribution of the Vaccine | COVID-19 Vaccine (

Am I Eligible:
New York | Covid-19 Vaccine (

Education Workers Include:

January 7

New York State has begun to distribute the coronavirus vaccine in a phased approach. Currently, health care personnel, long-term care personnel and other medical staff are eligible to receive the vaccination.

Details in regards to the next phase, 1B, have recently become available through the New York State Department of Health. Those eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1B are:
•    Teachers and education workers
•    First responders
•    Public safety workers
•    Public transit workers
•    People 75 and older

The New York Library Association has contacted the Executive and other state agencies seeking additional information regarding the extent of those considered, “education workers”.

As we await more information, we encourage individuals to directly contact their county department of health with inquiries.

January 6

We understand there is growing concern amongst members of our community who engage and interact with the general public, as to when they may expect/receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Currently, New York State is following the guidelines set forth by the CDC which target the following groups:

1a: Long-term care personnel & Health care personnel
1b: Persons 75 years and older & Health care frontline essential workers
1c: Persons 65-74 years & Persons 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions

These groups were determined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in coordination with groups such as the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.
As vaccinations becomes more readily available, NYLA will continue to support distribution to those in our community with direct and varied contact with the public.
In the meantime, we are encouraging those in the field to directly contact their county department of health, as they are responsible for the distribution within their geographic area.

January 5

NYLA Requests Library Workers be Treated as Essential Retail Workers for Vaccination*

As New York State continues with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations, the New York Library Association (NYLA) calls upon the Department of Health to consider front-line library workers, who provide critical access to information and technology for New Yorkers, in the same eligibility class as essential retail workers.  
While NYLA recognizes the challenges New York State faces in making decisions about vaccine distribution, we remain committed to providing safe environments for the 25% of New Yorkers who rely upon libraries as their primary point of internet access1 and to the front-line workers who deliver on those needs.

1. A recent Siena poll found that the public library is the primary point of internet access for 25% of households earning $50K or less annually.

* Approved by NYLA Executive Committee 1/5/21

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