NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Big Apple’s vaccine wars continue.

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his decision to expand the pool of those eligible. But as Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi became the latest to contract COVID-19, questions have arisen about why city officials, including hizzoner, have yet to get vaccinated, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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It’s official — if you work in a restaurant, drive a cab or are developmentally disabled you can now join the pool of millions competing for the city’s ever scarce slots for shots.

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The mayor is especially keen on protecting food service workers with indoor dining resuming on Valentine’s Day.

“Indoor dining, obviously, involves people taking off their masks, eating, drinking, talking, laughing,” de Blasio said. “So we have to recognize there’s a vulnerability there and a potential for more spread of the disease that affects all of us.”


The mayor’s defense of allowing potentially younger workers to compete with those over 65 took on an unusual twist with the disclosure that Chokshi has tested positive for COVID. He has not been vaccinated and neither has the mayor.

“I want to make sure that every dose possible goes to our seniors and to our first responders and all the folks we depend on,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio is 59 and not yet eligible, although he could certainly join the ranks of politicians like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and get a shot.

First lady Chirlane McCray is 66, eligible, but still waiting.

The mayor was asked if New Yorkers would be offended if he got the shot since he’s out in public so much.

“That’s a decision we’ve made and we’re going to stick to that,” de Blasio said.

How do New Yorkers feel about the mayor’s decision to wait?

“I think it’s honorable, but I also think that in practical terms the mayor is probably encountering an awful lot of people on a daily basis, so, logistically, I’d probably like to see him get it,” said Katie O’Neill of the Upper West Side.

“If he doesn’t want to take it, it’s up to him,” Angel Matta added.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think he should have got the shot,” a woman said.

“I think it’s a great idea. He’s in a safe environment,” another woman said.

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The mayor said New York City has administered more than 837,000 doses since they first became available and while most vaccination hubs reopened Wednesday, some are still closed due to supply shortages.


CBS2’s John Dias spoke with people heading back into the Jacob Javits Center.

“I’m feeling really good. I like to live,” Upper West Side resident Martin Klein said.

“I know eight people who have died, and I’m very grateful — as someone going on 80 — that I’m safe and protected,” another person added.

All appointments at city vaccine centers had to be postponed Monday and Tuesday.

One elderly woman told Dias she was relieved her appointment for the second dose wasn’t affected.

“I couldn’t have come out in the middle of storm. It would have been impossible for me,” she said. “I have a history of back fractures, so if I slip on the ice, it ain’t no joke.”

The reopening comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s announcement expanding the pool of those eligible to include restaurant workers, taxi drivers and people with developmental disabilities was a dramatic reverse course.

He said he changed his mind after the federal government said it will increase the state’s vaccine allotment by 20%.

The announcement brought ease to many taxi drivers, who have been working in close quarters with strangers throughout the pandemic.

“I’m worried myself. That’s why I put a partition here,” one driver told Dias.

Many of them even drove customers to their vaccine appointments in the past few weeks.

“Three to four trips every day,” another driver added.

Now, they’ll share something in common.

“I’m very thankful, I’m very happy. It’s going to be my turn soon,” said driver Gurcharan Kainth. “I’m going to make an appointment, I’m going to see when I can get it.”

CBS2’s John Dias contributed to this report

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Marcia Kramer