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Gov. Cuomo threatens prosecution for coronavirus vaccinations out of turn

N.Y. targeting Brooklyn-based medical clinic network for allegedly vaccinating recipients outside of state's approved priority groups.

Updated: December 30, 2020 - 11:56am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to prosecute both providers and patients failing to comply with his state's prioritization sequence for distribution of Moderna's newly approved coronavirus vaccine, Fox News reports.

"We will not tolerate any fraud in the vaccination process," said Cuomo at a press conference Monday. "Anyone who engages in fraud is going to be held accountable. We want to send a clear signal to the providers that if you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out and you will be prosecuted."

New York is currently providing the vaccine exclusively to frontline healthcare workers and individuals in elder-care facilities. 

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker announced over the weekend that the state is opening a criminal probe into reports of vaccinations being administered to New Yorkers outside of the state's approved recipient groups.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced an investigation into ParCare, a Brooklyn-based network of medical clinics allegedly advertising and providing vaccinations for those with underlying health conditions — in addition to the two categories approved by the state.

 

One individual who received the inoculation told Fox News that no one at the clinic questioned their eligibility to receive the shot. "I would never have participated in something I thought was criminally wrong," said the source.

Defense lawyer Troy Slaten is skeptical that Cuomo's threats to prosecute individuals have real teeth. The state's approved prioritization plans, he argues, are merely guidelines, not enforceable law. 

"They [the state] want to scare people; to send a message to make less attractive for somebody to skip the line and scare providers into making sure the guidelines are followed," Slaten told Fox. "Unless they have subpoenas, investigators are not entitled to patient records due to HIPPA and other patient protections."

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