New York State is investigating whether a group of potentially more than 850 people received the covid vaccine out of turn.
Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner, announced the investigation on Saturday, stating a network of clinics “may have fraudulently obtained covid-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public,” according to the New York Times.
“Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Zucker said.
The clinics in question are part of the ParCare Community Health Network, the Times reports, which advertised the vaccine on its Twitter account earlier this month, claiming that the clinics were offering the vaccine “on a first come first serve basis.” Though it stipulated that the vaccine would only be available for the elderly or people with underlying conditions, those groups of people are only authorized to receive the vaccine if they’re in long-term care or live in a nursing home. The tweet also prompted users to register for vaccination via its website or by scanning a QR code.
ParCare serves many residents of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community, and another tip-off that the clinics may not be observing the proper vaccine protocol arrived when the Rabbinical Alliance of America shared a photo of Rabbi and ParCare CEO Gary Schlesinger receiving the vaccine.
Schlesinger maintained that the state’s department of health had shipped the clinics 2,300 doses of the vaccine and that he was administering them lawfully.
“We are confident the end result of that review will show that ParCare at all times exerted best efforts to comply with all NYS DOH requirements and will allow us to continue to achieve our number one goal of providing these critical vaccines to the New Yorkers who need them most,” a spokesperson for ParCare told the Times in a statement.
Who gets the vaccine first and in what order has been the subject of great debate, even before the vaccine became available. The result so far is an imperfect system, but one that makes a certain amount of intuitive sense: In New York, hospital workers most at risk of exposure are the first to receive the vaccine, followed by other hospital staff, nursing home residents, nursing home staff, other health care workers, etc. But our health care system being what it is, it also seems plausible that the system might break down along the way, allowing for some people to game it.