Hospitals that don’t hand out COVID-19 vaccine speedily subject to fines: Cuomo

Handout photos of preparation for COVID-19 vaccine
FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist undergoes training as they prepare for the distribution of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a Mount Sinai Health System pharmacy in the Queens borough of New York City, in this handout photo released on December 10, 2020. Mount Sinai Health System/Handout via REUTERS

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to vaccinate all but 15% of nursing home residents with 234 additional doses of the vaccine before the end of the week and the remainder by the end of next week.

The Monday announcement comes as hospitalizations hit a peak unseen since the spring, 8,000 statewide with 170 deaths on Sunday. New York City, meanwhile, has a seven-day positivity rate of 9%, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Additionally, if hospitals such as Northwell do not distribute their allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine within seven days, the governor said they may be subject to fines.

“This is a very serious public health issue, and Department of Health commissioner Zucker is very firm about making sure the hospitals and deliver, any provider who does not use the vaccine will be fined $100,000 going forward, they have to use the allocation within seven days,” Cuomo said. “Otherwise, they can be removed from future distribution. We have almost 200 hospitals, if one hospital isn’t performing we can use other hospitals. And if you’re not performing this function, it does raise questions about the operating efficiency of the hospital.”

According to the governor, Northwell, as the largest healthcare system in the state has only distributed 62% of their allocation while hospitals in the New York Presbyterian system have a distribution of about 99%, especially at small facilities where their allocation was smaller to begin with. 

Cuomo conceded that the aspect of smaller facilities having a higher distribution rate is understandable.

The fine will be imposed if hospitals accept the vaccine but either is unable to or unwilling to distribute it, according to Cuomo. There will also be fines for providers who administer the vaccine through fraudulent means such as a monetary exchange.