NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As vaccine eligibility continues to expand in the Tri-State Area, there are still warnings to play it safe to stop the spread of COVID-19 as we head toward the summer.

The 9th Ave Gourmet Deli is a go-to bodega in Hell’s Kitchen. Worker Ali Saleh said employees like him have taken all the precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19, and added getting the vaccine will bring them much needed peace of mind.

“I feel it’s good. The shot is gonna be on the safe side. We can come back to work normal and everything’s gonna be OK,” Saleh told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez.

COVID VACCINE

On Sunday, the two unions representing New York bodegas announced the state is allocating 1,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines to bodega owners and their employees. Workers who register will be vaccinated in mid-April.

“We had to literally beg to get these vaccines allocated to us, and we didn’t have to take it that far. They should have acknowledged us, and they should have worked with us the same way they work with front-line workers in hospitals,” said Fernando Mateo of the United Bodegas of America.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci says as more and more people become vaccinated, restrictions will likely become more relaxed by summer, at places like ball parks and summer camps. But he warns, with infection rates stabilizing, prematurely pulling back on mitigation efforts could lead to another COVID surge.

“Once you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up. And, unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see. We got stuck at around 50,000 new cases per day, went up to 60,000 the other day, and that’s really a risk,” Fauci said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s administration is working on what’s being called a “Vax Pass,” a system for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus. A universal vaccine credential could play a big role in travel, school and the workplace, as more and more people get vaccinated.

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The 1,000 vaccinations will be given to bodega owners and workers on a first-come, first-serve basis. But with more than 14,000 bodegas across the five boroughs, their unions say its likely they will be requesting more.