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Cuomo says vaccine rollout too slow at long-term care facilities

Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 4:55 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the vaccine rollout in long-term care is taking too long.

The governor says the federal government was in charge of getting doses into these facilities but he says it’s not moving fast enough. So now, the state plans to step up and help out to get all facilities vaccinated in the next two weeks.

“Nursing homes have always been the most vulnerable populations and we want to get that done and we want to get that done quickly,” said Cuomo, D-New York.

The governor says a federal program is enlisting national chain pharmacies to administer vaccine doses inside long-term care facilities. But he says it’s not meeting New York standards because it’s going too slowly, so the state plans to step in and help speed things up.

“We are going to supplement and expedite the federal program. So the goal is, over the next two weeks, all the nursing home residents vaccinated and simultaneously we are doing the staff,” Cuomo said.

Walgreens, CVS and Health Direct are the pharmacies awarded contracts with the feds to roll out the vaccine.

“It’s somewhat of a challenge sometimes for people to get to these facilities. They may not be in the community that these pharmacies are located in,” Steve Moore said.

Moore is with Condo Pharmacy in Plattsburgh. He is also the chairperson for the state’s pharmacy society, representing the 22,000 licensed pharmacies in the state.

Moore says issues quickly arose with this plan, like not having enough staff to give shots or enough space to keep everyone six feet apart.

Moore says his pharmacy is not vaccinating people yet but they hope to soon.

“We are kind of at the point where you start to look at this last mile and that’s something that’s going to be handled and best be administered by people who are local, more so than the feds,” he said.

It’s unclear how many long-term care facilities have received vaccinations in the region. We asked the Clinton County Health Department and they couldn’t tell us.

“We have about 611 nursing homes statewide, 288 of them have completed the first dose,” Cuomo said.

The governor says one way the state hopes to speed things up is by allowing employees of long-term care facilities to administer shots themselves. Moore says most of these facilities have staff already trained to do that.

You can watch video of the governor’s full news briefing below.

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