Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York State, speaks at a press conference in New York City on September 8, 2020.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing a law that will make it a crime to sell or give coronavirus vaccination shots to people trying to get ahead in line.
“This vaccine can be like gold to some people,” Cuomo said at a press conference Monday. “If there is fraud in the distribution – you let people stand in front of other people or friends or family or they sell the vaccine – you lose your license, but I think it should be criminal and I will propose a law to that effect. “
Cuomo said vendors could lose their license if they fraudulently administer vaccines, although the law would result in criminal penalties if allowed by state lawmakers. To date, healthcare workers and people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been entitled to Covid-19 vaccines.
The announcement comes just over a week after a New York clinic, ParCare Community Health Network, was accused of misrepresenting itself to the state health department in order to obtain doses of vaccine.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement that the clinic may have “rerouted” [the vaccine] to the public – contrary to the state’s plan to give it to the front lines of health care and to residents and employees of nursing homes first. “ParCare said it will work with the attorney general’s investigation.
New York has already started administering Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, although the roll-out has been slower than planned. Cuomo urged state hospitals to give the vaccine faster. He said hospitals could face fines of up to $ 100,000 for failing to deliver their coronavirus vaccine allocation by the end of this week.
The state has received more than 774,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine but fired just 237,000 shots on Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hospitals that have received Covid-19 vaccines in the past three weeks have only used about 46% of the doses on average, according to a Cuomo slide presented at the briefing. While some hospitals have given almost all of their doses, others have only used 15%, according to the governor.
“This is a management problem for the hospitals. They have to move the vaccine and they have to move the vaccine faster,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said the New York Department of Health sent a letter to all hospitals on Sunday saying if they don’t use their vaccine assignments by the end of this week, they will be fined up to $ 100,000 and not given any more Assignments.
In the future, government hospitals will have to use their cans within a week of receiving them. Vendors who fall seriously behind could face further penalties, he said.
“You have the allotment, we want to have it in the arms of the people as soon as possible,” said Cuomo. “We’re going to use other hospitals that can manage it better.”
New York is joining the federal government’s partnership with pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens to deliver long-term care doses, though Cuomo said the program isn’t going fast enough.
Just under half of the 611 state facilities participating in the program have so far given residents their first dose of vaccine, Cuomo said. The state will send staff to “complement and expedite” the federal program so that up to 85% of nursing home residents will be vaccinated with their first dose by the end of this week, he said.
“The goal is for all nursing home residents to be vaccinated over the next two weeks,” said Cuomo. “Nursing homes have always been the most vulnerable populations, and we want to do it. We want to do it quickly.”