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COVID Vaccine Concerns: Eligible To Be Inoculated Monday, Some Medical Workers Perplexed By Lack Of Guidance From NYS

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Frustration is growing over the slow pace of COVID vaccinations being distributed in New York state.

On Monday, all medical workers, including those in private practice, are eligible, but some told CBS2's Lisa Rozner they have received no guidance.

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The staff at Gramercy Pediatrics has been going to great lengths to disinfect between patients, but owner Dr. Dyan Hes says the staff has not heard a word the state or city about how to get vaccinated on Monday, when all medical staff, including those in general practices and specialists' offices, are eligible, Rozner reported Sunday.

"This is insanity and yet I see people posting on Facebook, who work in like fundraising at large hospitals getting the vaccine, who do telehealth and never come in contact with a patient. Yet, like we are literally in the trenches," Hes said. "I have a friend, a colleague, private practice anesthesiologist, who literally intubates patients all day. Her face is in their faces. She's trying to do the best.

"We want answers. We've been working since March. We're the ones who've been exposed and we have been forgotten," Hes added.


The latest stats from the state show 630,000 doses have arrived, yet less than one-third -- 203,000 -- have been administered.

"We got one email about a week ago that it's coming Jan. 4. Yet none of us have been asked to staff any of these centers so who's giving the vaccine?" Hes said.

The city Department of Health didn't respond to questions about the lack of communication. All a spokesperson would say is that there are 125 sites where vaccinations are occurring and it will launch additional locations for eligible groups.

The state said one of those locations will be hospitals, but there are no details on how and when doctors and medical staff can sign up, Rozner reported.

"One of my associates drove to New Jersey this weekend. They said, 'Oh, you live in New York? You can't get it,'" Hes said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke virtually Sunday to Abysinnian Baptist Church in Harlem, preaching the importance of getting vaccinated.

"I would feel much safer if I took the vaccine, but I will not take the vaccine until the vaccine is available for my group in Black, Hispanic, and poor communities around the state," Cuomo said.

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Councilman Mark Levine, chair of the city's Health Committee, tweeted he's proposing legislation that will "require at least one COVID vaccination site (pod) in each zip code to be open 24/7."

To speed up vaccinations, Operation Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui told CBS's Face The Nation there have been discussions with vaccine manufacturer Moderna and the Food and Drug Administration to inject half of the volume to immunize twice as many people with what's in stock.

"Giving half of the dose to people between the ages of 18 and 55, two doses, half the dose," Slaoui said.

He said he believes things can accelerate in January.

But those eligible, still waiting for instructions on how to get the shot, said they won't hold their breath.

Nationally, around 4 million people have been vaccinated. The original goal was to administer the injections to 20 million people by now.

In New Jersey, on Monday at 9 a.m. frontline health care workers at University Hospital in Newark will already get their second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

CBS2's Lisa Rozner contributed to this report


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