COVID-19 vaccine deployment could be chaotic without federal plan: Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Mark Hallum/AMNY

Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that if the federal government does not come up with a nationwide strategy for deploying a COVID-19 vaccine before the anticipated December release, states could again be competing against each other for resources.

This would coincide with flu season and a winter of expected spikes in the virus due to colder weather, according to Cuomo, and as a result, the state along with other governors will be issuing a 36-point questionnaire to the Trump administration looking for guidance.

The federal government will be in a better position to help with deployment than that state, with New York feeling the effects of a $50 billion deficit. Despite this, Cuomo is formulating the Vaccine Administration Plan.

“We are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t know how many doses we’re going to get, we don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get, we don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary,” Cuomo said. “Prioritization would be based on risk; essential workers and people at risk would be prioritized… This is going to be a massive undertaking.”

The governor said that not only will New York have healthcare leaders assembled on a task force to inform the public, independent of the federal government, of whether or not a vaccine is safe and effective, but he plans to levy medical facilities of all stripes to administer it.

“But, states cannot do this on their own, okay? Period. This is the largest operational undertaking, I would argue, than anything we have done during COVID to date. This is a more complicated undertaking and we need the federal government to be a competent partner in this state and with every state,” Cuomo said.

To put this in perspective, Governor Cuomo stated that with 20 million New Yorkers and most of the vaccines in development requiring two doses, the state will need 40 million doses.

To date, the state under the Cuomo administration has only administered up to 12.9 million tests since the start of the pandemic.

Storage of the vaccine would pose another challenge with vaccines expected to need to be kept at -80 degrees Celsius. Whether one large storage facility will be needed or many is still a question in the mind of state leaders working on the coronavirus pandemic.

The details of the Vaccine Administration Plan will be dependent on a federal plan, according to the governor, again prompting the 36 questions issued by the National Governor’s Association, which Cuomo leads as chairman.