Alejandro Silva, a server at Carmine's restaurant on the Upper West Side, got COVID-19 last year. 

"I really was in bad shape," Silva said. And he doesn't want it again.

Now, he and his co-workers are eligible for the vaccine.

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Cuomo reversed himself Tuesday, saying the city could expand vaccine eligibility to cover more workers

  • Restaurant workers and taxi drivers are now eligible

  • Indoor dining resumes in New York, at 25% capacity, on Valentine's Day

"Even though you had COVID, you're still scared because some people get it, COVID, again," Silva said. "But I'm really happy they decided to include us.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo reversed himself Tuesday, saying the city could expand vaccine eligibility to cover more workers, including taxi drivers and restaurant staffers like Silva, who face a higher risk of infection because of their jobs.

"Indoor dining obviously involves people taking off their masks, eating, drinking, talking, laughing. You know, there's vulnerability there," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "It's been proven time and time again around the world. The folks who serve them are going to come in contact with them constantly." 

Silva says it will be a relief to finally get vaccinated.

"It is stressful because you're trying to stay safe, the restaurant tries to keep you safe, but not everybody does the same thing, especially outside when you travel on the train, on the subway," Silva said. "Even in the restaurants, some people walk in without a mask."

The management at Carmines says they will help staff to register for the vaccine. 

"We already looked it up so we are trying to get more information for all of our employees to encourage them," Erika Rodriguez, director of training at Carmine's, said. "I just hope there is enough supply."

With COVID-19 rates falling, local restaurants will be allowed to have diners back inside at up to 25% capacity, beginning on Valentine's Day.

At Carmine's, they cannot wait.

"We've been closed almost 240 days, indoor dining, along with myself and the industry, can't wait to get our doors open on Feb. 14," Randy Talbot, chief operating officer at Carmine's, said. "Do we wish it was earlier? Yes, but it's a start, and I think we're all very excited to get started on Feb. 14 in hopes that we never have to go back to closing our doors again for indoor dining."

Silva says restaurant workers like himself helped New York weather the pandemic.

"We are essential workers as well: the cookers who come every day they, haven't stopped working, they've been on the front line as well," Silva said.

To prove eligibility for a vaccine, workers must attest that the job requires in-person contact with the public or co-workers, plus provide proof of employment, such as an ID card, a letter from the employer or a recent pay stub.