NY GOP Leaders Send Urgent Letter to Health Commissioner About Vaccine Plans, with a Few Suggestions

Posted: Jan 11, 2021 11:00 AM
NY GOP Leaders Send Urgent Letter to Health Commissioner About Vaccine Plans, with a Few Suggestions

Source: AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Finally, on Monday, New York will allow the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to more senior citizens. Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had practically begged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow him to vaccinate elderly New Yorkers. They had the supplies, he argued. So what was the hold up?

"I've got a huge number of folks over 75 who would show up right now if we would allow them to do it – state won't allow it," the mayor told a group of reporters.

But it seems that the rollout is entering the next phase.

And yet, the process is turning out to be slow and agonizing. As NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer explained in a Twitter thread, seniors hoping to be vaccinated are faced with an intimidating, glitchy 51-question process.

"The @nycHealthy site for signing up for a COVID vaccination is complex, burdensome, and buggy," Stringer notes. "It will present an obstacle for too many people—particularly seniors—trying to sign up. This is a major problem."

"We can't force frontline workers and those over 75 to confront a bewildering signup process," he adds.

Two New York lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt and Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, share the concerns of their constituents when it comes to the governor's delayed vaccine rollout.

"The early stages of the vaccine distribution have not instilled confidence that the equipped to complete this mission in a timely fashion," they write in a letter to New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker.

They include a list of 22 specific questions about the state's vaccine rollout. I have a feeling that's only the tip of the iceberg.

The lawmakers ask for more guidance regarding what exactly constitutes an "at-risk" condition, when the proposed schedules of the vaccine distribution will be provided publicly, when vulnerable individuals who receive at-home care will be eligible for the vaccine, when the state will expand vaccine distribution in rural counties, and other pressing concerns.

The 11th question caught my particular attention because the lawmakers both chide Cuomo for his arrogant attitude toward hospitals, while offering a better solution.

"The administration has promoted what has been referenced as a 'use it or lose it' policy when it comes to enforcing vaccine distribution performance by providers, including hospitals and local governments. This type of punitive strategy is ripe for scapegoating. It would seem more appropriate to first work with these providers to identify why there are delays and remedy the situation. What efforts are the administration making to better collaborate with these providers? If the current 'use it or lose it' policy becomes the norm, how will the state react when the federal government applies a similar policy to the states?"