New York's rigid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has resulted in doses to be thrown out because they expired, according to a new report by The New York Times.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's launch of the coronavirus vaccine has a very limited distribution list in the state's first phase. Under Phase 1A of New York state's distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, only health care workers, residents and staff at nursing homes, coroners, and certain funeral workers are eligible to get the coveted vaccination.
The strict guidelines of who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 shot has caused vaccines to sit in freezers and not be used. In New York City, only 167,949 of 489,325 doses have been administered, which means that 66% are currently unused, according to the report. In New York state, roughly 50% of vaccines have been used thus far.
The coronavirus vaccine was first available in mid-December, and as of Jan. 1, "about 88,140 people had received the first of two doses, the equivalent of about 1 percent of the city's population," the New York Times reported.
The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Manhattan received a small supply of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate employees. For two weeks, more than half of the 600 doses sat in freezers.
Dr. Peter Meacher, the chief medical officer at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, said that he would like to give the vaccine to high-risk patients, but feared breaking the state rules.
The restricted list of those who were legally allowed to get the vaccination has caused some of the coronavirus vaccines to be thrown away.
Bill Neidhardt, the press secretary of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), revealed to the New York Times that clinics were "unable to give out doses because of the strict rules — or even had to throw some out."
"This is so enraging," Neidhardt wrote. "Utterly speechless."
The rigid rules about who is qualified to get the COVID-19 vaccine has caused a rift between Cuomo and de Blasio. The NYC mayor demanded the Democratic governor to expand the list on who can legally get the COVID-19 shot.
Finally on Friday, Cuomo expanded the eligibility list to include people who are 75 and older, teachers, first responders, public safety workers, and public transit employees. The expanded group will be allowed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Monday.
"On Monday you can start to schedule appointments. Pharmacies will start coming online, some Monday, more on Wednesday … we are going to have thousands of providers coming online next week," Cuomo said.
"New York City has heard enough," a disgruntled de Blasio wrote on Twitter. "We will begin administering shots to City Workers and the elderly in 1B starting on Monday."