A former New York State Democratic Party leader, who previously worked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has said he received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida due to the slower rollout of inoculations in his native state.
New York resident John Sullivan, who worked as the party’s co-chairman in the 1990s, said he chose to receive the first dose in Florida as he became eligible for the shot there before Cuomo expanded New York’s vaccine administration network and widened eligibility criteria to include additional categories of essential workers and people aged 65 and older.
“I got the vaccine down here. I probably wouldn’t have gotten it by now in New York,” Sullivan, 73, told The New York Post.
He told the Post he was eligible to receive the COVID-19 shot in Florida as he has been renting an apartment in the state since October 2020. He added that he is due for his second and final dose of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and German firm BioNTech on Feb. 3.
Florida Gov. DeSantis, from the moment vaccinations rolled out in the state in mid-December, made it a priority for those aged 65 and older to receive the shot against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Cuomo meanwhile announced the broadened criteria during a Jan. 9 press briefing in a bid to accelerate New York’s pace of inoculations against the CCP virus following a slow rollout and reports that narrow guidelines have led to some vaccine doses being discarded.
In its first phase, New York’s vaccine rollout prioritized health care workers.
“I think Florida is a leader in the nation in vaccinating seniors,” Sullivan said. “For as much as I disagree with Gov. DeSantis on other things, allowing senior citizens to get the vaccine right away was the right decision.”
“He was right on. Who’s dying out there? The people 65 and over,” he continued.
“Cuomo’s call to vaccinate seniors came a week later. You know how many people could have been inoculated in a week?” Sullivan added. “Health care workers should be a priority to get the vaccine. But are they a priority over the most vulnerable senior population? Probably not.”
Cuomo said during the briefing that over the next several weeks, the Department of Health will also be setting up 20 mass distribution sites across the state to further the vaccination efforts. Cuomo estimated that it would take around 14 weeks to vaccinate groups 1A and 1B.
Priority group 1A includes workers in health care settings, as well as seniors living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Group 1B includes education workers, first responders, public safety and transit workers, and seniors.
Cuomo said that just over half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in New York as of Jan. 8.
“So, 33,000 week one, 102,000 week two, 148,000 week three, 259,000 [week four] to date, but the week is not over,” he said, adding that the state receives a supply of 300,000 doses per week.
“We’re hoping for an acceptance rate close to 80 percent with a minimum of 70 percent.
“The problem all along has been a lack of allocation from Washington, and now that we’ve expanded the population of those eligible, the federal government continues to fail to meet the demand,’ Cuomo spokesman Jack Sterne said in a statement.
Trump administration officials had said they projected 20 million people would get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 31.1 million doses have been distributed as of Jan. 15 but just 12.2 million have been administered.
Health Secretary Alex Azar said last week that President Donald Trump’s administration is releasing all COVID-19 vaccine doses, after initially holding back second doses “as a safety stock.”
Both of the authorized vaccines are built on messenger RNA platforms and require two doses spaced several weeks apart.
“We now believe that our manufacturing is predictable enough that we can ensure second doses are available for people from ongoing production. So everything is now available to our states and our healthcare providers,” Azar told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Jan. 12.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.