The NYPD, other police and fire departments, and large labor unions should develop detailed plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to their members once they become eligible, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday — seeking help in expediting what has been a sluggish rollout.
“I’m asking police departments, fire departments, transit workers who are going to be essential workers, if they can operationalize their own vaccination system,” said Cuomo, speaking during an Albany press briefing. “They have their own employees who can do the vaccines.
The governor’s hope is that more agencies administering the vaccines internally will release pressure on what he called the “retail system” of hospitals, pharmacies, medical practices and other entities doling out shots.
“To the extent we can have the essential workers use their own employees or their own health-system provider to do their own vaccines, that removes a burden from the retail system,” he said, taking the NYPD as an example.
“New York City Police Department, they could go to the New York City public hospitals for a vaccine, which would then overload the New York City hospitals, or they could do their own vaccines,” he said.
The NYPD was scheduled to begin administering vaccines to its members last week, but the launch was delayed, with Mayor Bill de Blasio pointing the finger at restrictive state rules governing who can be inoculated when.
“The teachers union, the [Transport] Workers Union, all these frontline essential workers, please now think about organizing your own system so it alleviates the burden on the retail system, which is going to have to be dealing with the general public,” he said.
“For those larger workforces and those larger unions that can do this, I want you to start thinking about it now, and I would appreciate it,” he said.
Though the vaccine remains unavailable to the general public while it is still being administered to front-line medical workers, Cuomo said that some 3,762 locations are now part of the statewide “retail system” in anticipation of a wider launch.
Some locations are already distributing the vaccines to eligible healthcare workers.
There are about 200 locations in New York City, and 100 on Long Island, Cuomo said.
“On top of this retail system, you’re then going to have large state sites that are set up — Javits Center, SUNY-CUNY [campuses] — where you’ll have drive-thru vaccine operations,” he said. “We need the supply to do that, but we are already setting those up.”
Albany and City Hall have blamed each other for the slow rollout of the vaccines, with Cuomo demanding de Blasio better “manage” inoculation efforts in city-run hospitals, and Hizzoner saying that the Big Apple could “unquestionably” be working faster if not for tight state restrictions.