Story at a glance
- New York may penalize medical clinics that allow people to jump ahead in line for COVID-19 vaccinations.
- The governor is also pushing medical facilities to administer all of the initial vaccine doses by the end of the week.
Amid confusion surrounding the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across state distribution centers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) is weighing the option of making it a crime to sell or administer coronavirus vaccines to people who are trying to cut ahead in line.
CNBC reports that Cuomo discussed the potential law during a press conference on Monday.
“This vaccine can be like gold to some people,” he said. “If there’s any fraud in the distribution — you’re letting people get ahead of other people, or friends or family, or they’re selling the vaccine — you’ll lose your license, but I do believe it should be criminal, and I’m going to propose a law to that effect.”
Under the new law, if health care providers were caught and found guilty of vaccinating a person not scheduled to receive a shot, they would be eligible to lose their medical license, in addition to facing potential criminal charges.
Per recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care workers and long-term care residents are currently eligible for the initial rounds of vaccinations.
This announcement follows accusations that one clinic in New York, the ParCare Community Health Network based in Brooklyn, made fraudulent claims to obtain doses of the vaccine.
In a tweet, ParCare wrote that it is “actively cooperating with the State of New York’s inquiries,” and that the clinic’s priority is the health and safety of New Yorkers.
Statement from ParCare Community Health Network December 28, 2020 pic.twitter.com/1vRqDfIcuT— ParCare Medical Cntr (@ParCare) December 28, 2020
New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker stated that the clinic potentially “diverted [the vaccine] to members of the public — contrary to the state’s plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers.”
So far, New York has received more than 774,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, but has reportedly only overseen 237,000 shots as of Saturday, CNBC reports.
To incentivize state hospitals to roll out the vaccine as quickly as possible, Cuomo has authorized $100,000 fines to any institution with vaccine doses remaining by the end of the week. Hospitals and clinics with unused vaccine doses by this deadline will not be eligible for more allocations.
“This is a management issue of the hospitals. They have to move the vaccine, and they have to move the vaccine faster,” Cuomo said.