New York’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an utter disaster, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is to blame.
While the state has had the vaccine for weeks now, the Democratic governor has enacted multiple layers of rules and eligibility requirements that made it too difficult to access and administer. At the beginning of January, New York ranked surprisingly low on Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, dragging its feet on implementation and only administering coronavirus vaccines to just over 1,000 people per 100,000.
Shortly after this slow rollout began, hospitals and health care providers began throwing away coveted doses of the vaccine because of a lack of coordination and lower-than-expected demand by the small pool of those the state considered top priority. Those medical professionals who couldn’t bring themselves to discard any of the doses began administering them to people who were technically not eligible for the vaccine yet. Instead of addressing the faults in the state’s current system, however, Cuomo’s penalized the people issuing the doses for disregarding the state’s COVID-19 vaccine prioritization schedule, which included vaccinating drug addicts before senior citizens, and severely scolded and threatened hospitals that didn’t use all of their allotted doses.
Despite pleas from people such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to reconsider who was allowed to receive a dose, Cuomo continued his crackdown, allowing prisoners and others to jump the line ahead of the most vulnerable populations. It wasn’t until this past weekend that Cuomo actually began to expand the vaccine pool, permitting people such as essential workers, teachers, and, finally, those 75 years old and beyond to get in line and allowing other licensed medical professionals to give the shots, including practical nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and podiatrists.
Cuomo also relaxed some of the rules and quotas that forced providers to discard leftover doses, allowing any employees who work with the public in a medical setting to receive leftover doses of the vaccine if none of “the priority population can come in before the doses expire.” These employees include pharmacy “store clerks, cashiers, stock workers, and delivery staff.”
“This exception is ONLY for the purpose of ensuring vaccine is not wasted,” the state’s Department of Health said.
Although Cuomo’s updated guidelines are expected to smooth out some bumps in New York’s road to vaccinating its citizens, there is still more work to do. New York is still plagued by confusion about how to get the vaccine and a lack of organization as Cuomo attempts to recover from his grave leadership mistakes over the last 10 months.
At the beginning of the rollout, administration of the vaccine was overwhelmingly limited to normal business hours, with large drops in administered vaccinations over weekends and holidays. On Christmas Day, only 180 people in the entire state of New York received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On New Year’s Day, only 135 New Yorkers were vaccinated. Now, Cuomo said, vaccines are by appointment only “due to limited supply from the federal government.”
“Do not show up to any vaccination site without an appointment — you will not get the vaccine,” he said.
All vaccinations are BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
Due to limited supply from the federal government, all New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient when scheduling appointments.
Do not show up to any vaccination site without an appointment—you will not get the vaccine.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 11, 2021
Despite Cuomo’s insistence about appointments, some of the websites used to sign people up to receive the vaccine are littered with problems. In addition to being buggy, the New York City website requires a “multi-step verification process just to set up an account, and then a six-step process to set up an appointment,” according to the city comptroller. It also has a 51-step online questionnaire, which inevitably deters people from signing up, especially senior citizens, many of whom struggle with technology, leaving hundreds of vaccination slots open.
The process for *senior citizens* to get the vaccine in New York City involves a 51 step online questionnaire that includes uploading multiple attachments. https://t.co/V11yUdAf0W
— Polly Mosendz (@polly) January 11, 2021
While he previously opposed a vaccine created and distributed under the Trump administration, Cuomo now brags about the Empire State’s rollout plan, claiming the vaccine is the “weapon that’s going to win the war.” Furthermore, after catching his fair share of flak for ridiculous lockdown measures that extended far beyond a reasonable timeline, Cuomo magically decided on Monday during his “State of the State” speech that shutting down the economy for almost a year was probably a bad idea and something needed to change.
“We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely,” he wrote on Twitter.
We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.#SOTS2021
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 11, 2021
Not only did Cuomo refuse to give up any documents or evidence related to his fatal policy that required COVID-19-positive patients to be placed in nursing homes with the vulnerable, but he flip-flopped his way through the first month of vaccination in the state, changing guidelines and costing the state precious vials of the Wuhan virus vaccine. Cuomo has repeatedly shown his inaptitude for handling a pandemic. Maybe he should stick to writing books.