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COVID-19: NY Sets New Rules For Vaccines, Including Fines, Issues Updated Guidance For Schools

The potential penalties for hospitals failing to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Photo Credit: ny.gov
The number of public hospitals across New York. Photo Credit: ny.gov
The hospitals in the state that have used the most and least of their COVID-19 vaccines. Photo Credit: ny.gov
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered updated guidance on keeping schools open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Credit: ny.gov

Some hospitals in New York are doing a better job than others in maximizing their allocations of COVID-19 vaccinations, and as a result, the state is launching new rules and possible fines.

During a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Jan. 4 in Albany, Cuomo said that while some New York have utilized nearly all of their allocated vaccinations, others, including several systems in downstate New York, have only used between 20 percent or 30 percent of their designated doses.


Statewide, just 46 percent of the doses allocated to hospitals have been administered in the first few weeks of the vaccination rollout.

Cuomo also said that despite the state guidance that communities with an infection rate topping 9 percent should close their schools, it is ultimately up to local school districts on whether or not they close.

"If the school's infection rate is lower than the community average, then they can stay open, but it's up to local schools," he said. "In my opinion, if children are safer in school than they are in the streets of the community, then those children should be in school.

"We've been testing in schools, so we know the positivity rate in schools," Cuomo continued. "If the schools are safer, then my opinion is to leave the schools open, but that will be up to school districts across the state. I understand the history of local control regarding education, and I respect it. That's just my opinion, but it's up to the local school districts to decide." 

Cuomo called on local officials to ensure that the hospitals within their jurisdiction expeditiously use the vaccines provided to them.

“Hospitals have been receiving vaccines for the past three weeks, but approximately 46 percent of those hospitals have used the allocations, and here (see above) are the fastest and slowest,” Cuomo said. “We don’t mean to embarrass any hospitals, but we want them to be held accountable.

“We see our highest performing hospitals administering 99 percent of their allocation, and even Northwell (Health) is at 62 percent, the largest healthcare system in the state, so it’s not a function of size, it’s a function of administrative capacity,” he said.

“We want those vaccines in people’s arms,” he added. “A lot of these are public hospitals, so I need those public officials to step in and manage those systems.”

The highest-performing hospital systems:

  • New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System: 99 percent of dosages allocated;
  • Oswego Hospital: 99 percent;
  • Richmond University Medical Center: 93 percent;
  • Adirondack Medical Center: 87 percent;
  • Finger Lakes Health: 77 percent;
  • University of Rochester Medical Center: 68 percent;
  • Ellis Hospital: 66 percent;
  • Auburn Community Hospital: 64 percent;
  • Northwell Health: 62 percent;
  • Erie County Medical Center: 62 percent.

The lowest-performing hospital systems:

  • Samaritan Hospital: 15 percent of dosages allocated;
  • A.O. Fox Hospital-Tri-Town Campus: 18 percent;
  • Nassau University Medical Center: 19 percent;
  • Nuvance Health: 24 percent;
  • United Health Services Hospitals, Inc.: 25 percent;
  • Rochester Regional Health System: 25 percent;
  • Montefiore Healthcare System: 30 percent;
  • New York City Health + Hospitals: 31 percent;
  • Westchester Medical Center: 32 percent.

“This is a very serious public health issue, and we’re firm about making sure that hospitals step up and deliver here,” Cuomo said. “So any provider who doesn’t use their vaccines can be fined, and they have to use it within seven days, otherwise you can be removed from future distribution.

“If one hospital isn’t performing, others can use (the vaccines).”

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker made note that it’s important that all frontline healthcare workers accept and take the vaccine, as they are at the forefront of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.


“There’s a sense of urgency within some of these hospitals to move things forward,” he said. “That’s when you feel there’s a sense of priority to push and move it forward.

“On the other end of the spectrum, you have some hospitals at 15 … 30… 32 percent, so we need more of a sense of urgency there. These are the people at the forefront sitting opposite patients with medical conditions, so there is a sense of urgency to get them vaccinated, and I urge everyone to recognize that this is a high priority in hospitals across the state.”

According to Cuomo, the Department of Health issued a warning to hospitals advising that if vaccines are left on the table, they will face a $100,000 fine, limited future allocations of dosages, and could potentially be subject to “more serious sanctions.”

“If you’re not performing this function, it does put into question the efficiency of this hospital, so we’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “The hospitals have been given the vaccine for expeditious administration, so if you’ve only used a third of the allocation, you shouldn’t get more allocations.

“You have some (hospitals) doing 99 percent, so they must be better at administration,” Cuomo added. “I want to get needles in the arms, so if there are some hospitals that are better at doing that, then they should do that. And if you can’t get it done in seven days, then just raise your hand and say ‘I can’t do this.’

“OK. Then we’ll give it to hospitals that can. We know that some hospitals are better at administering it,” Cuomo continued. “Don’t say as a hospital that ‘I can administer it,’ and then don’t … that’s when you would be fined. You’ll be fined for accepting an allocation (of the vaccine) that you can’t or won’t administer.”

Cuomo called his stance regarding the administration of the vaccine “constructive impatience,” as he implored hospitals to administer the allocations of the vaccine.

“I have problems with hospitals saying that they can volunteer, then take this scarce capacity of this valuable vaccine, and then doesn’t do it,” he said. “So yes. I’m impatient, but it’s constructive.” 

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