ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Hospitals in New York state have until the end of the week to use whatever COVID-19 vaccines they have from their initial allotments or face fines up to $100,000.
At a news conference Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said some hospitals have used only 15 percent of what they’ve been allocated in the past three weeks, while others have used almost all of it.
Statewide, he said, hospitals have used about 46 percent of the doses they’ve received.
“You have the allocation, we want it in people’s arms as soon as possible,” he said.
Hospitals that don’t comply won’t receive any more vaccines.
“Any provider who does not use the vaccine could be fined up to $100,000,” he said.
Going forward, he said, hospitals have to use what doses they receive within seven days. “Otherwise, they can be removed from future distribution.”
And if hospitals can’t perform this function, he said, “it does raise questions about the operating efficiency of the hospital, so we are very serious about it.”
The first batch of vaccines to hospitals were largely to inoculate their own employees, primarily the ones on the frontline of the pandemic who work directly with COVID-19 patients.
In the meantime, the governor said inoculations at nursing homes are slower than the state would like.
Right now, those shots are being administered under a federal program that uses personnel from pharmacy chains.
“That has not been going as quickly as we would have liked,” he said.
Cuomo said the state is stepping in to expedite the federal program with the aim to give all nursing home residents their first dose within two weeks.
“So, the goal is over the next two weeks all the nursing home residents vaccinated and simultaneously doing the staff.”
“We’ll be sending in additional personnel into nursing homes to do the vaccines.” He said some nursing homes have the personnel to administer the shots themselves.
“But the nursing homes have always been the most vulnerable populations,” he said, “We want to get that done and we want to get that done quickly.”
The state will also begin what the governor calls “special efforts” to supplement what pharmacies and hospitals are doing.
“The state is going to be establishing drive-throughs for public distribution,” he said, “we’re going to be using public facilities, convention centers, etc., field hospitals for distribution.”
He said the state will recruit retired health care workers to administer the vaccines.