[guest post by Dana]
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York is raising a ruckus with his acknowledgement that addicts in rehab are next to receive the Covid vaccine this week:
During a virtual news conference in Albany, Cuomo said the state was expecting to receive a combined 259,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
In addition to urgent care center employees and “individuals who are administering the COVID-19 vaccines, for obvious reasons,” Cuomo said that shots would be given to residents of “OASAS” — the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
The agency runs 12 treatment centers across the state, with five located in or around New York City, and also certifies and monitors “hundreds” of private facilities, according to its website.
“These are congregate facilities. Congregate facilities are problematic. That’s where you have a lot of people in concentration,” Cuomo said.
“Nursing homes are obviously the most problematic because they’re congregate plus older, vulnerable people. OASAS facilities, what we call the O facilities, they’re congregate — not necessarily older — but congregate facilities.”
Residents and staffers will be vaccinated at both the state-run and privately operated rehab centers, as well as at facilities run or licensed by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Mental Health, according to the state Department of Health.
Emergency medical services personnel, medical examiners and coroners and some funeral workers will also get shots, a DOH spokeswoman said.
After lobbying by a non-profit residential treatment center, the decision to give them a place toward the front of the line was made. The decision to prioritize recovering addicts was explained thusly:
…it made sense to give the shots to drug users because they were most likely “to get the disease and spread it.”
“We were overlooked initially. We got the governor’s office’s attention and Gov. Cuomo acted appropriately,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congressional staffers are now eligible to get the vaccine. This after members of Congress received the vaccine earlier this month:
Congress’ attending physician informed lawmakers Monday night that two staffers in every House member and senator’s personal offices are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
In addition, the Office of the Attending Physician is offering the vaccine to four staffers of every committee chair and every ranking committee member.
Congress received a limited batch of vaccines for lawmakers in mid-December that Monahan at the time indicated would be parceled to a small number of staffers if supplies permitted. His Monday night memo suggested that the early batch will provide for more than 1,000 Capitol Hill staffers to receive the two-shot regimen.
We knew that prioritizing the vaccine was going to be contentious and that any decision would bring about complaints and frustration. But it’s jarring to read about these frustrations unfolding in medical facilities across the nation:
Health care workers across the country have started receiving COVID-19 vaccines, but doctors and nurses at some of the nation’s top hospitals are raising the alarm, charging that vaccine distribution has been unfair and a chaotic “free-for-all.”
At hospitals in Massachusetts, New York, Arizona, California and elsewhere, medical professionals say that those with the most exposure to COVID-19 patients are not always the first to get vaccinated. And others who have little or no contact with COVID-19 patients have received vaccinations.
We also should have known that who you know would be a factor in whether non-frontline workers get the vaccine too.