New York City clinics are being investigated for administering the COVID-19 vaccines early to non-high-risk citizens.
ParCare, the healthcare network at the center of the investigation, provides many medical services, including primary and internal care to six New York City locations. The network, which services a large portion of the Orthodox Jewish community, previously teamed up with the city to offer free COVID-19 testing for the Orthodox Jewish community.
The New York Times reports that ParCare was given 2,300 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, which they announced on their company Facebook page on December 16th. Since then, over 850 of those doses have been distributed. The post claimed that the vaccine would be available on a “first-come, first-serve basis” to those with underlying conditions, the elderly, or anyone considered “high risk.” However, the company is health officials claim that they gave the vaccine to anyone who showed up requesting it.
New York guidelines state that the only citizens who are permitted to receive the vaccine right now are nursing home residents and staff, EMS workers, coroners, high-risk hospital workers, and all other healthcare workers.
New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker said that “the State Department of Health has been made aware of reports that Parcare Community Health Network, an Orange County provider, 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 – contrary to the state’s plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers.”
Widely known Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Herschel Schachter, was one of the over 850 people to receive the first rounds of the vaccine in New York City by ParCare. The man told the Jerusalem Post that he and a fellow rabbi were told that them receiving the vaccination was legal.
“We were led to believe that it was,” Schacter explained. “If either of us would have been told that this was inappropriate, that it wasn’t legitimate, we would not have done that.”
During a coronavirus briefing on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that ParCaren could face multiple charges “based on how we know the vaccine was transferred, stored, and administered.” New York Attorney General Letitia James will lead the investigation.
In a statement, ParCare said that they had returned the remaining vaccines to New York health authorities.