Cuomo's Vaccine 'Fix' Is Still a Tangled Mess of Rules, Restrictions, and Fines

His original guidance forced hospitals to throw away vaccine doses. That still might happen.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that he would relax his stringent COVID-19 vaccine restrictions—which essentially held that health care workers had exclusive dibs on inoculation—and open the next eligibility tier on the state's distribution plan. Starting today, firefighters, police officers, the National Guard, teachers, public health workers, grocery store workers, pharmacists, transit employees, and those who are 75 or older will be allowed to schedule their vaccination.

That's good news—to a degree. Cuomo's vaccine rollout has been so mired in regulation that health care providers were forced to throw away doses, and there is no guarantee that won't continue to happen even with this change. This in the state that holds the most populous city in the country.

In other words, you shouldn't blame those discarded vaccines on a lack of people who wanted to take the shots. Blame them on a lack of people who were allowed to take the shots.

Cuomo presented area hospitals with a double bind: Fail to use all of your vaccines and be fined up to $100,000, or vaccinate people out of order and be fined $1,000,000. Inoculating health care workers first may sound sensible on the surface, but that evaporates when you consider that logistical externalities often prevent providers from corralling such employees in perfect time. (The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can last for several months while frozen, but after thawing they have a very short shelf-life.) If those hospitals strayed and found an alternative candidate outside the mandated plan, they would have met financial ruin. 

That threat is not an empty one: At least one hospital is under investigation for daring to vaccinate school officials before their time came.

Cuomo has claimed that such rules are necessary to prevent shady providers from constructing vaccine bribery schemes and pushing their friends to the front of the line. That concern may not be utterly groundless, but there is no evidence of widespread inoculation fraud. Compromising the health of New Yorkers seems an inept response to a negligible risk. The benefit of keeping the state's senior citizens alive surely trumps such a worry.

New York's graduation to tier 1b is a step in the right direction—now 3.2 million more people can receive the vaccine without health care providers worrying about their careers ending. But the state is still excluding large swaths of senior citizens in favor of "critical infrastructure workers," such as grocery attendants. Those workers are providing a vital service, but many are also young and healthy, with much less risk of dying should they contract COVID-19.

Health care workers still have first claim on available vaccines, and at New York's current rate, it will take until April to address 1b qualifiers.

What's more, it appears that providers may still face harsh repercussions should they stray from Cuomo's order. Guidance released this weekend will now allow hospitals to use surplus vaccines on any of their public-facing employees if no one in "the priority population can come in before the doses expire," and pharmacies can do the same for "store clerks, cashiers, stock workers and delivery staff." But those limitations are still arbitrary and a danger to public health.

Perhaps that sounds like a silly objection in context: After all, 4 million people can now receive the vaccine statewide. But people have been known to ghost their vaccine appointments even as doses are nearing expiration, something that no health practitioner can foresee. As I wrote last week, the D.C. Department of Health permits providers to pull aside any willing recipient if they have surplus vaccines that would otherwise go to waste. New York's regulations on who may benefit from those extra doses will likely still cause some to end up in the trash. What happens when all the clerks and delivery staff are vaccinated?

Israel is in a different position, with 20 percent of its population now inoculated. As of last week, about 100,000 of those recipients were aged 20 to 40, with many falling outside the government's current distribution tier. That's because inclined volunteers may receive a surplus dose as opposed to a provider throwing it in the trash.

The small country has already administered 1.7 million first doses. New York, by contrast, has given just 555,000.

NEXT: Sidney Powell's Loony Election Claims, Which Gave Birth to the Deadly Capitol Invasion, May Finally Cost Her

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  1. “His original guidance forced hospitals to throw away vaccine doses.”

    Other than that, though, socialized medicine really is the most efficient.

    1. Under socialism, the most important thing is to keep the “wrong” people from having more than they “deserve”. This policy is, therefore, a resounding success.

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  2. “Inoculation fraud” isn’t a phrase that should exist. WTF world are we living in?

    1. Even “allowed to schedule their vaccination” is pretty fucked up considering my grocery store/pharmacy is always advertising *free* walk-in flu shots where you sit there while they up-sell tetanus boosters.

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    2. …the beginnings of socialized medicine…

  3. Cuomo literally wrote the book on effective pandemic response. He knows exactly what he’s doing. I trust him.


    1. 1b.1 – purchasers of his book. Large fines if you borrow a book from a friend or library. New book sales only.

  4. Cuomo is addicted to power, and he’ll kill whoever he needs to in order to keep it.

  5. Government actions are never, truly, for the purported people or purpose but for politicians and bureaucrats power, ‘profit’, and privilege.

    “Instead of recognizing the State as ‘the common enemy of all
    well-disposed, industrious and decent men,’ the run of mankind,
    with rare exceptions, regards it not only as a final and
    indispensable entity, but also as, in the main, beneficent.” ~ Albert Jay Nock

    1. “Government actions are never, truly, for the purported people or purpose but for politicians and bureaucrats power, ‘profit’, and privilege.”

      Didn’t you support the stupid shit Nancy is doing?

      Weird how you forget all about that.

      1. SQRLSY is an idiot, and too dim to hide it no matter how many sockpuppets he uses.

      2. I know that it’s a lot to ask of you Libertarians for Cuomo, but if you could transcend that inherent cognitive dissonance for a moment and make the slightest sense it’d help.

        1. It makes perfect sense. That you don’t understand why is the problem I’m highlighting SQLSRY.

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  7. Iowa is certainly doing it wrong as both my Wife and daughter have been vaccinated due to being on standby during vaccinations that they were doing the paperwork for. Actually, they were in Illinois but the medical system is based out of Iowa and I assume they ignore the Pritzker rules this close to Iowa.

  8. It’s interesting this is happening even as left wingers blame Trump for vaccinations not happening faster. It’s yet another example their criticisms have no relationship to reality.

  9. And you voted for this democrat mess for the next 2 to 10 years depending. Hell it could be longer.

    Stop voting for democrats and have a functioning country based on solid principles and not corporatist crony greed.

  10. “This in the state that holds the most populous city in the country.”

    I think this is also a state with the second worst death rate in the country, outside of New Jersey.

    1. That’s certainly true if ‘death rate’ is defined as deaths/100k people. But that definition also assumes that cases/100k people are the same from state to state and that is a transparently stupid assumption.

      Honestly idk what the answer is. But I’m pretty certain that trying to interpret this data through the lens of making some political point is NOT how anyone will get to the answer. Not that you are doing that.

      1. I don’t have to assume every state has the same cases/100k people to know exactly how many deaths/100k any state has.

    2. And given the number of people who live in NJ but work in NY (and vice versa) its hard to completely divest NJ’s death rate from NY’s

  11. Worst…Governor…EVER

    And a horrible human being

  12. “I think this is also a state with the second worst death rate in the country, outside of New Jersey.”

    That would be a feat, considering the death rate everywhere is 100%.

    1. No, ’tisn’t. New York has an exodus, more people leaving than arriving. If you divide deaths by births, you get less than 1.000.

      1. Everything that lives dies eventually. There is no escape.

        “If you divide deaths by births, you get less than 1.000.”

        Current deaths/current births is statistical nonsense.

        1. Sure there is escape from New York. You just pack your bags and walk away.

      2. If you are going to do deaths/births, to be meaningful it has to be:

        all deaths everywhere ever/all births everywhere ever. The difference between this and 100% is statistically meaningless.

  13. The base problem with socialism, and especially socialized health care, is it looks so good on paper, but no government has ever made it work that way. The reason government can not make any kind of business activity work is governments access to taxation. Government does not go out of business for failure to deliver good service, so when income falls off government raises taxes. The VA is an excellent example of the failure of government run health care. far too many soldiers die with their names in the queue for years. It is the same in Canada, the UK, and everywhere else it is tried. Then for healthcare, the providers of service get their first experience in socialized care, but when their experience elevates the demand for their services they leave their country and come to the USA.

    This experience is a most excellent example of what socialized healthcare would quickly become in the USA. The government already has an extremely tight fisted control. In fact government control has already created a great many calamity. Vaccine is timing out on the shelves in storage. Unforgivable! Many elderly patients died because the diseased were not sequestered away from their nursing homes. Government sequestered the healthy with the sick with lock downs. Government put far too many people out of work without compensation, or opportunity. Government crashed the economy with lock outs and lock downs. Government did most everything wrong! government will run socialized medicine for the well and the wealthy, not the chronically ill, disabled, poor, and the rest of us. Obama said it when he said “give grandma a pill or something.” No! Not happening. We are not discarding our elderly! We are not implementing defacto euthanasia! And we are not allowing socialism if we can stop those with that kind of lust for power and control!

    1. And you know SleepyJoe is going to double down on this sort of thing. DAY ONE!

  14. “Compromising the health of New Yorkers seems an inept response to a negligible risk.”

    But it’s the same stance Cuomo uses on everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s vaccines or gun control. Make stupid rules that don’t work then do your damnedest to punish anyone who dare disobey.

  15. SleepyJoe will solve this problem with his quick mind and sharp wits. DAY ONE!

  16. So, is there a reason that these essays that are critical of mostly Democratic governors do not mention the word “impeachment”?

    The word sure likes to be used against Trump.

  17. N.Y.C. was my home town, was born, raised there, lived there for a number of years too. Departed in 1967 for reasons not needing to be stated here. That said, I continue to wonder at Cuomo’s longevity in elective office.

    1. It’s not the leader, it’s the people. They’re a bunch of statists, and they predictably elect a statist.

  18. Didn’t the Democrats try to get Cuomo to run for President because they thought Joe “Big Guy” Biden was such a weak candidate and a real mess? Does that mean Cuomo would have recieved 100,000,000 votes? When they claim Biden received 80,000,000 votes why do I feel like an Eskimo being sold an ice box?

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  20. I know somebody in New York who qualified for a shot on the grounds of age. Lucky for her she’s been working with computers since the 1980s. Many in her generation are not computer literate and couldn’t get through the process without help. You’re supposed to have a smartphone so you can fill out the forms and scan QR codes which will take you to a web site that’s already crashed under the load. The process is designed by 30 year olds for 30 year olds, but they aren’t the ones who need the vaccine most.

  21. “large swaths of senior citizens in favor of'”critical infrastructure workers,’ such as grocery attendants”

    Let’s see, inoculate someone who could be spreading COVID to 100+ everyday, or inoculate someone who is sitting around waiting to die of old age. Hmmm, this is a tough question?

    Cumo is fucking up the vaccination, but Yeah! grocery clerk over granny.

    I’m 100% not in favor of withholding medication, but if we are force to *ration* (ration being operative condition here) a limited resource (vaccine, manpower,etc), I think inoculating the grocery clerks first is the right thing to do: grocery clerk, granny, and THEN Cuomo.

  22. Andrew Cuomo Is Still a Tangled Mess of Rules, Restrictions, and Fines

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