Cuomo Demands Faster COVID Vaccinations, Threatens Fines
Less than half of the vaccines sent to New York has been used.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the latest prioritization for New Yorkers eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Beginning Jan. 4, eligibility is being expanded to include all outpatient/ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers who provide direct in-person patient care, as well as all public health care workers who provide direct in-person care, including those who conduct COVID-19 tests and handle lab specimens.
Beginning this week, eligibility will also be expanded to include home care workers, hospice workers, and nursing home and other congregate setting workers who have yet to receive a vaccine through the federal nursing home vaccination program.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Individuals who work in private medical practices
- Hospital-affiliated medical practices; public health clinics
- Specialty medical practices of all types
- Dental practices of all types
- Dialysis workers
- Diagnostic and treatment centers
- Occupational therapists
- Physical therapists
- Speech therapists
- Behavioral health workers
- Student health workers
"While we're trying to control COVID with one hand, we're trying to defeat it with the other and the vaccine is the weapon that will win this war," Governor Cuomo said. "Getting this vaccine out is going to be the single greatest operation government has ever had to accomplish and we're taking bold actions to ensure it is delivered swiftly and equitably for all New Yorkers. Not only are all health care workers - the heroes who have taken care of us throughout this entire pandemic - now eligible to receive their first dose, but we are taking steps to ensure providers expedite vaccinations, resources are in place to vaccinate the general public, and bad actors looking to game the system are held accountable."
Additionally, all front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including individuals who administer COVID-19 tests, handle COVID-19 lab specimens, and those directly engaged in COVID-19 vaccinations are also eligible to receive the vaccine.
Governor Cuomo also told New York hospitals to speed up the process of vaccinating people against COVID-19.
"The vaccine will only be effective if it is administered quickly and fairly across every corner of the state," Cuomo's office wrote in a press release.
To facilitate this, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a letter to vaccine providers in recent days outlining the expectations which have been placed on providers to ensure an expedited administration of the vaccine. This included:
- Any provider must use the vaccine inventory currently in hand by the end of week or face a fine up to $100,000;
- Moving forward, facilities must use all of its vaccine allotment within seven days of receipt;
- Providers who do not comply or are found to be seriously deficient can be subject to more serious sanctions and fines, including being disqualified from future distribution
Additionally, with fraud being a real concern of any operation this size, Cuomo signed an executive order stating that if any entity falsifies who or what they are, or if any entity does not follow state guidelines on vaccine eligibility, that provider will be subject to license revocation. The Governor will also be proposing legislation to make these acts criminal moving forward.
So far, only 46 percent of the vaccines sent to the Empire State has been issued, officials say.