Practitioners who abuse COVID-19 vaccine will be subject to penalties: Cuomo

Members of the Fire Department’s EMS unit receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 23, 2020.
Photo courtesy of FDNY

By Mark Hallum

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new penalties in order to rein in possible vaccination fraud, as suspected by Parcare Community Health Network which allegedly received the vaccine and distributed to regions and individuals who were not prioritized under state and federal law.

According to the governor, practitioners who break this law will be subject to a $1 million fine as well as all state licenses being revoked.

“You’ll have fraud in the vaccine process it’s almost an inevitable function of human nature, and of the marketplace. Vaccines are valuable and there’ll be people who break the law. And we’re looking at one health care provider who may have done that,” Cuomo said. “That will apply to a provider, a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist any licensed health care professional. So, if you engage in fraud on this vaccine, we will remove your license to practice in the state of New York.”

New York State Police will be leading investigations into healthcare providers who misrepresent how they will be distributing the vaccine will then be in the hands of Attorney General Letitia James.

“We provide them the vaccine because they fraudulently filled out a form that said that they were a qualified health center, that was incorrect, so that was strike one and number two they moved it from one area to another area, which was inappropriate,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. “So that strike two, and then they gave it to people who were not on the priority list and so that was strike three.”

The number of New Yorkers going in for COVID-19 testing dropped by half over Christmas but hospitals are still seeing a steady stream of patients as the statewide positivity rate has risen to around 8.3%, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Hospitalizations went up by 400 since Sunday to 7,559, deaths were at 114, and the positivity rate increase by two percentage points.

On the last Monday of 2020, Cuomo says 368,600 vaccination doses will have been distributed to New York City in total by the end of the week with urgent care facility workers and congregate care facilities being among the top priority of those receiving the vaccine.

Next week, ambulatory care health workers and public-facing public care workers will be eligible to receive the vaccine.