New York is going to reallocate unused COVID-19 vaccines that had been earmarked for nursing homes — with tens of thousands of staffers at the facilities declining to get the shot as the state’s stockpile dwindles, officials said Monday.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, speaking during a virtual press briefing, said all of New York’s 611 nursing homes have been offered the first dose of the two-dose coronavirus vaccine.
“That is great news,” the governor said.
But not all staffers and residents at the nursing homes chose to get inoculated.
Cuomo said 225,000 first-doses of the life-saving vaccine have been reserved for the long-term care facilities, and that 105,000 doses have been used so far, while 120,000 doses remain.
According to Gareth Rhodes, a member of Cuomo’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, 57,000 nursing home residents have been vaccinated and 13,000 declined, while 48,000 staffers got jabbed — and 41,000 have declined.
“We’re gonna reallocate those that are used in the long-term facility program to the state program, but we’ll make sure that the residents who want to take it and the staff who want to take it, we will reserve their doses,” Cuomo said.
Staff and residents at New York’s nursing homes — which were hard hit by the virus — receive vaccinations through a federal partnership with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.
If any more doses are required to ensure that more nursing home residents and staff get a shot, they will be immediately provided, Cuomo said.
Meanwhile, Cuomo once again called on the federal government to ramp up the vaccine supply.
The governor said he sent a letter Monday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar demanding an explanation for the secretary’s claim that the feds would release more doses held in reserve to the states — only for it to emerge in the media that they had already been distributed.
The state this week finally launched a webpage to track its vaccine rollout, which says New York has received almost 1.2 million doses and has put around 858,000 of them into people’s arms.
However, those figures do not include shots allocated to nursing homes. The CDC says more than 1.8 million doses have been shipped to the Empire State.
Cuomo last week extended the shots to anyone age 65 and over, but has repeatedly insisted the state has nowhere near enough doses to cover everyone who is now eligible.
The governor also sent a letter Monday to Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla asking him to let New York purchase COVID-19 vaccines directly from the company.
“My job as governor of New York is to pursue every avenue,” said Cuomo. “The federal government increased eligibility dramatically but never increased the supply for the dosages.”