New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed on Monday a bill that would make it a crime to sell or administer a coronavirus vaccine to people who are not included in the priority groups.
In the press briefing, Gov. Cuomo threatened to criminally prosecute providers who fraudulently administer COVID-19 vaccines to people who are not included in the priority list. The groups eligible to receive doses are current;y health-care workers, nursing home residents, and patients of assisted living facilities.
“This vaccine can be like gold to some people. 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,” Cuomo said.
The announcement came after ParCare Community Health Network—a clinic in New York—allegedly mispresented itself to the Department of Health to obtain doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said the clinic may have administered the vaccine to members of the public against the state’s plan. The attorney general’s office has launched an investigation.
New York’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been slower than projected. Cuomo has pushed medical facilities across the state to inoculate faster and warned that hospitals could face fines of up to $100,000 if they fail to meet their vaccine allocations by the end of the week.
The state of New York received a shipment of 774,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. However, health officials have only given out 237,000 shots as of Saturday, authorities from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Hospitals that received vials of the vaccines have only used about 46% of the doses on average, with others having used only 15%, NBC News reported.
“This is a management issue of the hospitals. They have to move the vaccine, and they have to move the vaccine faster. You have the allocation, we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible. We’ll use other hospitals who can administer it better,” Gov. Cuomo warned.