Cuomo Seeks to Speed Up N.Y. Vaccine Doses as 54% Remain Unused

New York’s public and private hospitals could be fined as much as $100,000 and risk not receiving further coronavirus vaccine shipments if they don’t administer doses within a week of getting them, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

As more than half of the shots received by hospitals statewide remain unused, Cuomo called out individual hospitals that have been slow to administer the vaccines to their staff. While some of the 194 public and private hospitals have used nearly all of their allocation, others have given out as little as 15%, he said. New York City’s public hospitals have administered 31%, according to Cuomo.

“I need those public officials to step in and manage those systems,” Cuomo said Monday at a virus briefing. “You have the allocation, we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible.”

Hospital providers who are “seriously deficient” in administering vaccines can be subject to further sanctions, including limited allocations in the future. If hospitals aren’t able to speed it up, they should say so, Cuomo said. “You would be fined for accepting an allocation that you can’t administer or won’t administer,” he said.

About 300,000 New Yorkers have been vaccinated so far, with the main focus on front-line medical workers. The state is looking to hasten its vaccination efforts as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to climb. Beyond hospital systems, Cuomo laid blame for the slower-than-expected rollout on a federally-run program to inoculate residents and staff at nursing homes administered by Walgreens and CVS.

Of the 134,360 tests reported on Sunday, 8.34%, or 11,209, were positive, according to state data. There were 170 virus-related fatalities, and 8,251 hospitalizations, up 288 from the day prior.

The state is closely monitoring hospital capacity, particularly in areas such as the Finger Lakes and Mohawk Valley, where cases are rising more quickly, Cuomo said. There currently are no regions with less than 30% capacity, though some are getting close.

In addition to hospital vaccinations, Cuomo on Monday announced plans to supplement and expedite the federally-run program to vaccinate nursing-home residents and staff.

Only 288 of the 611 facilities enrolled in the federal vaccination program have completed the first dose for residents, Cuomo said. The state plans to provide additional doses this week to get up to 85% of nursing-home residents vaccinated with the first dose, he said.

There have been some issues with people refusing the vaccine, Cuomo said. About 10% of nursing home residents statewide and 15% of their staff have refused to get the vaccine, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said at the briefing. The state doesn’t currently have numbers on hospital workers who have refused to get vaccinated, Zucker said.

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