Lawyer slams Cuomo for ‘disgraceful’ vaccine roll-out as he can’t get grandma, 88, an appointment


A lawyer has slammed Governor Andrew Cuomo for New York’s ‘disgraceful’ vaccine roll-out saying he can’t get an appointment for his 88-year-old grandma because the state-run sites are booked up until April. 

Chris Marchese, a lawyer based in Washington DC, hit out at Cuomo on Twitter Thursday saying the state’s system for getting the COVID-19 vaccine is ‘so messed up’ that his grandmother Barbara Keller, soon to turn 89, has been unable to get a shot.  

Both Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have hit out at the federal government for a lack of doses and warned that they will run out of shots as soon as next week while eligible individuals could be waiting six months to be vaccinated given the current rate of supply. 

New York receives just 300,000 doses per week and with the state this week expanding eligibility to those aged 65 and over and the immunocompromised, seven million people now fall into this priority list.  

But others are pointing to issues within the state, with New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Democrat, calling the state’s vaccination program a ‘complete mess’.

Kim told DailyMail.com Thursday the state had a vaccination plan and protocols in place for when the need arose but bypassed them to centralize the rollout in an effort to ‘make private hospitals look good’.

He said his constituents – particularly the elderly who have isolated for the best part of a year – are growing ‘livid’ with Cuomo and the governor is quickly ‘losing the trust of people on the ground’.   

A lawyer has slammed Governor Andrew Cuomo for New York’s ‘disgraceful’ vaccine roll-out saying he can’t get an appointment for his 88-year-old grandma because the state-run sites are booked up until April. Chris Marchese with his grandmother Barbara Keller

So far, the state has vaccinated just 3.76 percent of its population with 732,066 doses administered, according to data from Bloomberg. 

But the state has received almost 1.8 million doses from the federal government, meaning just 40.7 percent of available shots have gone into the arms of vulnerable residents while almost 60 percent lie unused.

In New York City, just 33.8 percent or 267,923 shots have been administered out of 793,675 currently available. 

Exactly one month on from the day the first American – and New Yorker – received the shot on December 14, questions are mounting over what is holding up the process. 

Marchese tagged Cuomo in a Twitter thread Thursday saying the state’s booking website and hotline were ‘not working’ and there are no appointments for three months. 

‘NY’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a disgrace. Hotline and website not working. Appointments at state-run site booked thru April,’ he wrote.

Chris Marchese (above), a lawyer based in Washington DC, hit out at Cuomo on Twitter Thursday saying the state's system for getting the COVID-19 is 'so messed up' that his grandmother, soon to turn 89, has been unable to get a shot

Chris Marchese (above), a lawyer based in Washington DC, hit out at Cuomo on Twitter Thursday saying the state’s system for getting the COVID-19 is ‘so messed up’ that his grandmother, soon to turn 89, has been unable to get a shot

Who can get vaccinated under the current Phase 1B? 

  • Individuals 65 and older 
  • Immunocompromised  people
  • First responders
  • Public safety officers
  • Teachers and other school staff
  • In-person college instructors
  • Childcare workers
  • Grocery store workers
  • Transit workers
  • Individuals living and working in homeless shelters
  • Corrections officers  

‘@NYGovCuomo — what should I do? I just want to help my 88-y.o. grandma w/ severe underlying health probs get a vaccine. Please help.’

Cuomo said in a press briefing Tuesday that it could take up to six months for all those now eligible to get appointments, citing the expanded priority list and a lack of supply from the Trump administration.

Cuomo bowed to pressure on Monday to include people aged 75 and older in the current phase – phase 1B – of the vaccine rollout after previously insisting the elderly come after healthcare workers. 

On Tuesday, the CDC then recommended expanding eligibility to people aged 65 and over, as well as people who are immunocompromised – a recommendation Cuomo took on.  

De Blasio echoed Cuomo’s concerns Wednesday warning that New York City is on track to run out of COVID-19 vaccines next week blaming the federal government and the vaccine manufacturers for the slow rollout of shots. 

Marchese said he was aware of supply issues but pointed to a range of other issues he said he encountered in the booking system including no free appointments, sites not actually offering the vaccine and errors on the websites. 

‘Hey, @HealthNYGov — what’s the deal? Your eligibility form says my grandma is eligible and yet all the providers are either booked, not actually offering the vaccine, or have booking websites that don’t work, incl. the state’s own page for Jones Beach,’ he tweeted.

‘To clarify: I know NY has limited supply. My beef is that NY has said, if you want a shot, all you have to do is call & book an appt. That’s not true. No one knows what’s happening; systems aren’t working.’

Cuomo has hit out at the federal government for a lack of doses and warned that eligible individuals could be waiting six months to be vaccinated given the current rate of supply

Cuomo has hit out at the federal government for a lack of doses and warned that eligible individuals could be waiting six months to be vaccinated given the current rate of supply

Marchese said the issue especially poses a challenge given the current eligible group are mostly elderly and typically less tech-savvy.

‘How are elderly, esp. those without computers, supposed to do this??’ he wrote.

‘I reached a very nice and helpful woman at Suffolk County’s Department of Health. 

‘She confirmed the county can’t do much (largely a state-driven plan) and people are confused and overwhelmed. Suffolk is trying its best to help elderly bc state system is so messed up.’

Assemblyman Kim, who represents the 40th District of New York, which includes portions of Whitestone, Flushing, College Point, and Murray Hill in Queens, told DailyMail.com the vaccine rollout issues are reminiscent of issues that first plagued both the early days of the state’s coronavirus testing program and contact tracing program.   

‘We’ve been here before,’ he said.

‘When we first tried to execute efficient testing then also contact tracing it failed.’  

New York state has received almost 1.8 million doses from the federal government, meaning just 40.7 percent of available shots have gone into the arms of vulnerable residents while almost 60 percent lie unused

New York state has received almost 1.8 million doses from the federal government, meaning just 40.7 percent of available shots have gone into the arms of vulnerable residents while almost 60 percent lie unused

Kim said the state is now passing the blame onto the federal government because ‘things aren’t going their way’. 

‘Back with the testing even the governor said the buck lies with him. He said that, but it seems like when things aren’t going their way they’re punting the blame on the city and the federal government,’ he said.

‘And I think the public especially now they know there is a potential cure for them to go back to normality – especially seniors who have been isolating – are so livid and angry that there is this potential cure but because of a lack of efficiency and administrative planning it is not happening.’

The lawmaker acknowledged that there ‘isn’t an abundance of supply’ but said the lack of efficiency in the rollout is a ‘complete mess’. 

‘We’re at a point where we don’t even know how many vaccines are being wasted – no one is keeping track,’ he said.

New York Assemblyman Ron Kim (pictured), a Democrat, told DailyMail.com Thursday the state's vaccination program is a 'complete mess'

New York Assemblyman Ron Kim (pictured), a Democrat, told DailyMail.com Thursday the state’s vaccination program is a ‘complete mess’

People get the vaccine at Manhattan's Javits Center which recently opened as a COVID-19 vaccination site on January 13

People get the vaccine at Manhattan’s Javits Center which recently opened as a COVID-19 vaccination site on January 13

Last week, medical providers said they had been forced to throw out vaccine doses because of the limited scope of eligible people at the time and the hefty fines if they are given to people not in the current phase. 

Kim pointed to several problems: a lack of forward planning and a move to centralize the vaccination rollout.   

‘The conversations happening now in terms of vaccine planning should have taken place months ago even before they had the vaccine as it was going to happen sooner rather than later so why has it taken so long?’ he asked. 

He explained that there the state has a standard vaccination plan and protocols for distributing vaccines.  

This is ‘a local driven plan’ leaving the distribution to local healthcare professionals with the state’s role just being to track and monitor it. 

But ‘the state bypassed this protocol and centralized the operation,’ he said.

‘And when I ask people on the ground – the doctors and medical professionals – everyone is saying they made the call to do this to make private hospitals look good,’ he said.   

‘The people making the decisions are about controlling their image and politics and they should really pass [responsibility] to medical professionals and scientists who will make much better decisions.’ 

Kim said that the booking systems are missing off some local pharmacies that now have doses so residents don’t even know they are available there. 

People are ‘losing trust in the government,’ he said.  

This is how the test positivity rate across the state of New York varies

This is how the test positivity rate across the state of New York varies

His comments come after New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer hit out at the city’s cumbersome online appointment system at the weekend.

He said hundreds of appointments had been left unfilled as elderly residents struggled to navigate the website and its 51-question form.  

The city responded by creating an option for people to call 311 for an appointment, 

But this system was also racked with flaws as people were on hold for almost half an hour on the line.  

Cuomo announced the opening of a new vaccination site at the Fort Washington Armory in Washington Heights Wednesday as the state tries to ramp up the rollout of the shots it does have. 

On Monday, Cuomo bowed to pressure to add people aged 75 and older to the current phase – phase 1B – of the vaccine rollout after previously insisting the elderly come after healthcare workers.  

Phase 1B includes residents over the age of 75, teachers, transit workers and police, in addition to healthcare workers who were covered in Phase 1A. 

The new phase also broadened the types of healthcare workers that can receive the vaccine to include anyone who interacts with the public, such as licensed practical nurses, pharmacists, dentists and podiatrists.  

On Tuesday, the CDC then recommended expanding eligibility to people aged 65 and over, as well as people who are immunocompromised – a recommendation Cuomo took on.  

Cuomo said the expansion means seven million New Yorkers are now eligible for the vaccine but the state is still only receiving 300,000 doses each week.  

The governor also blasted the federal government’s allocation of the vaccine, saying that with the expanded eligibility, people can now expect to wait a staggering six months for a shot.  

‘At our current rate of supply, it will take close to six months to vaccinate everyone who’s currently eligible,’ Cuomo said Tuesday.  

‘Is that helpful? I don’t think so. I don’t think this creates national confidence. I think it creates national frustration.’ 

DailyMail.com has reached out to Cuomo’s office for comment.  



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