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COVID-19: Reports Of Vaccines Thrown Out, Unfilled Appointment Slots Spark Outrage In NY

Rebecca Garcia, RN, public health nurse at the Putnam County Department of Health, administers the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Jennifer Mottarella, LPN, the school nurse at St. James school in the Carmel Central School District.
Rebecca Garcia, RN, public health nurse at the Putnam County Department of Health, administers the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Jennifer Mottarella, LPN, the school nurse at St. James school in the Carmel Central School District. Photo Credit: Putnam County Department of Health,

New York’s slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination and handling of the booking to receive the shot has drawn the ire of some area residents.

According to reports, some medical providers in New York have been forced to throw away some allocations of the vaccine because they didn’t fit the strict guidelines set forth by the state on who is eligible to receive the shot.

The outrage forced state health officials to loosen guidance on who is eligible to receive the vaccine as it expanded into “phase 1B” on Monday, Jan. 11 after previously threatening fines for hospitals that failed to use their allocations of the vaccine.

With more people now eligible for the vaccine, and thousands of distributors ready to “put the needle in the arm,” there has now been trouble for some looking to make an appointment, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that if the state doesn’t receive more allocations of the vaccine, it could take upwards of 14 weeks for the majority of those eligible to receive their shots.

However, the wider rollout of the vaccine has created problems of its own, as some slots remain unfilled, and others have had difficulty getting through to the COVID-19 vaccination hotline.

“The @NYCHealthy site for signing up for a COVID vaccination is complex, burdensome, and buggy,' New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer tweeted. 'It will present an obstacle for too many people — particularly seniors — trying to sign up. This is a major problem.

“We should be #1 in vaccinations in the nation from day one — and we should be using every tool at our disposal to vaccinate as many New Yorkers as possible as quickly as possible.”

In response to a complaint that the number for the hotline was unavailable and callers were getting a message that said “We’re sorry. We’re temporarily unavailable to take your call,” a spokesman for Cuomo responded by saying they’ve been inundated with phone calls.

“People tell me that message trips when more than If more than (57,000) people call in an hour,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “We have 800 full-time staff answering. More being added this week. People are getting through. Appointments are being made. All state sites have openings still.”

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