When it comes to the painfully slow rollout of vaccine distribution around the country there are plenty of places to point the finger of blame, though none should be assigned to Pfizer and Moderna who are cranking them out as fast as humanly possible. Administrative blunders and a lack of advance planning are the most common reasons for the confusion about deliveries and a lack of functional systems where people can request a spot in the line. But then there are cases like that in New York State. We’ve seen the same things I just mentioned going on, but the problem is being further compounded by the executive orders issued by the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. He has set forth such a stringent order for who can have the vaccines first (with threats to impose massive fines on anyone who doesn’t toe the line) that huge numbers of doses have been stuck in freezers for weeks. And as the New York Times pointed out, it’s gotten so bad that some of them expired and had to be thrown out. Facing criticism for that, Cuomo has now grudgingly relented and will allow a few more “classes” of people to sign up for a dose.
Under increasing pressure to relieve a backlog of hundreds of thousands of unused coronavirus vaccine doses, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday expanded the eligibility groups to include three million more people, including those 75 and older.
In the weeks since vaccinations began in mid-December, stories of doses sitting in freezers for weeks or being discarded have emerged, offering a glimpse of what public health experts have characterized as a troubled rollout in New York.
Mr. Cuomo had stuck to rigid guidelines that prioritized health care workers, and residents and staff of nursing homes and group homes. But on Friday, after repeated criticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio and local officials around the state, the governor announced that this new group — which also includes many essential workers — could begin scheduling vaccinations as soon as Monday, one month after New York City received its first doses.
Before I come down too hard on the Teflon Don of Albany here, I’ll just say that when it comes to frontline healthcare workers, I get it. I fully agree that they should have been at the head of the line for the vaccines, assuming they actually wanted to be vaccinated. Some of his other scheduled priorities, such as prisoners and teachers, even if the latter are not going back to class, are more questionable. But the healthcare workers, in many cases, either aren’t signing up to take the vaccine or they haven’t been able to find one.