COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The health and safety of our Racker community is of our utmost importance and priority. As leaders in disability services and supports, Racker is fortunate to be able to offer phased vaccine roll outs to the people we support, and all the front line workers who chose to receive the vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Us

When can I be vaccinated?

Following the Federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidance on distribution phases, New York State has clarified at-risk populations and essential worker phases. You can find the phases below.

NOTE: Under the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, employees of CVS, Walgreens, and other select pharmacies will vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities including nursing homes, much like they do for the flu vaccine.

What is the timeline for moving from one phase to another?

The first phase of distribution (primarily for healthcare workers and long-term and congregate care workers and residents) is estimated to last for 5 weeks, running through the week of January 11, 2021. Following phase 1A, individuals in the next group (1B) will be encouraged to sign up to be vaccinated, there may be timeline overlap where individuals from the first group will still be receiving vaccine while the next group begins.

Racker Employee Eligibility

Phase 1


ALL staff


ALL in-person CSPs in traditional and self-direction


ALL Staff

Counseling for School Success

ALL in-person DT/Lighthouse counselors

Care Management

ALL staff

ECS Therapists

All in-person therapists/evaluators/contractors


ALL staff

Early Intervention Providers
Quality Standards School Health Staff

NOTE: Racker Phases timeline will be updated as roll out continues.

NYS Population Risk & Essential Worker Phases

Group 1

High-risk hospital workers

emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff

Nursing home residents and staff

All long-term and congregate care residents and staff

EMS workers Other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners

NOTE: Under the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, employees of CVS, Walgreens, and other select pharmacies will vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care facilities including nursing homes, much like they do for the flu vaccine.

Group 2

First responders

Fire, Police, National Guard, etc.

Teachers/school staff, childcare providers

In-person instructions

Public health workers
Essential frontline workers who regularly interact with public

Pharmacists, grocery store workers, transit employees, etc. or maintain critical infrastructure

Other long-term care facility patients and those living in other congregate settings Individuals in general population deemed particularly high risk due to comorbidities and health conditions.

Group 3

Individuals over 65 Individuals under 65 with high-risk health conditions

Group 4

All other essential workers

Group 5

Healthy adults Healthy Children

NOTE: State officials estimate that vaccinations for adults not in a high priority group will begin in mid-winter. A COVID-19 vaccine may not be available for young children until more studies are completed.

SOURCES: NYS COVID-19 Vaccination Program book (page 29), NYS Phased Distribution web page (accessed 12/21/20)


A note from Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Racker’s Medical Director regarding the COVID Vaccines

By the time you read this, Covid 19 vaccines will have already been shipped and administered to the first group of front-line health care workers in the three counties we serve. While most of you have been thinking about the vaccines over the past few months, it is now time to think about this more deeply, because they will be available soon. Here are some questions to think about so that you can make the most informed decision for yourself, your friends, and your family.

• Are these vaccines effective?

Yes, they are very effective. The two that have already been FDA approved have 94-95% effective rates, which is very high for vaccines.

• Are these safe?

It certainly looks like they are very safe. There is a lot of talk about “side effects,” and this worries a lot of people. But except for the very few cases of something serious, all of the side effects reported so far are very similar to those seen with Flu vaccines. That means a sore arm, and possibly some aches and pains. Some people develop a fever, but all of these symptoms go away within a day or two. Here is another way to think about it. The data suggests that in terms of something life-threatening or life-altering, driving your car is a lot more dangerous than this vaccine.

• Are there people who should not get the vaccine?

Yes, we now know that people with extreme allergies and who have had anaphylactoid or anaphylactic reactions to the things they are allergic to should not get the vaccine at this time. It is important to know that the few people who have had the stronger reactions have been treated with medications and recovered very quickly.

• Will the vaccine be mandatory for Racker staff?

No, at this time we will not mandate that staff get the vaccine.

• Will the vaccine cost me anything?

No, the vaccine is to be provided to all citizens for free.

• What changes in our safety practices will happen when I get the vaccine?

Initially, there will be no changes in our safety practices because not all people will have gotten the vaccine. During 2021 we will revisit that decision.

• These vaccines were approved much more quickly than other vaccines, so does that mean corners were cut in terms of studying safety?

No. The things that changed to bring these to approval and distribution so much faster than other vaccines were all about cutting red tape and extremely long waiting periods between testing phases. And, there was huge financial investment to make the vaccines before they were approved so that IF they were proven to be safe, we’d already have millions of doses ready to distribute. If they were already made but turned out to not be safe, the vaccines would be destroyed. The actual safety testing was just like other vaccines.

• So, should I get the vaccine once it is available to me?

That is a decision you should make with your primary care physician. In most cases, expect your physician to say “yes”. It will all depend on your overall state of health, age, any medical factors that are specific to you, etc. There are two main reasons to get the vaccine. One is protect yourself from what we know is an extremely contagious virus. The other is to protect those you work with, your family members, and your friends. Even if you got Covid 19 and didn’t get sick, you can still put others at risk.


With Best Regards,


Jeffrey S. Lewis, M.D., D.M.D.

Medical Director


Dan Brown, Racker Executive Director, has a light-hearted message in regards to reasons to get the vaccine.