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COVID Vaccine In New York: Fed Up With The Feds, Gov. Cuomo Requests Buying Doses From Pfizer Directly

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With demand high and supplies low, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday he wants to go straight to the source.

He wants to bypass the federal government and buy his own doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

State and city vaccine centers are overwhelmed and frustrated New Yorkers have been unable to get vaccinated. Add that to a decision by the federal government to cut New York's weekly vaccine allotment and you have the perfect storm driving Cuomo to act. He's taking out his checkbook and trying trying to buy supplies directly from Pfizer.


He claims that unlike vaccine maker Moderna, Pfizer doesn't have to take orders from the federal government.

"Pfizer is a private company. They produce it on their own. They can do what they want with it," Cuomo said.

In the letter to Pfizer, the governor promised that, "The distribution of any doses obtained directly from Pfizer will follow the rigorous guidance the state has established, well enabling us to fill the dosage gap created this week by the outgoing federal administration."

Pfizer did not turn down the governor's request, but said the feds would have to green-light it.

"... Before we can sell directly to state governments, HHS [the Health and Human Services Department] would need to approve the proposal," the company said.

That's not likely given what HHS told CBS2's Jessica Layton -- that New York has only administered 54% of the doses it has received.

"Given the state could nearly double its vaccinations with what it actually has on the shelf -- we are perplexed as to why Gov. Cuomo is trying to circumvent a long-planned federal allocation system by attempting to cut to the front of the line," an HHS spokesperson said.


The governor is demanding more action from the feds. He slammed Operation Warp Speed officials for opening up eligibility requirements to 7.1 million New Yorkers while decreasing New York's allotment by 50,000 doses this week.

"They said there would be more supply to meet the wave they were creating. That was not true. They created public chaos," Cuomo said.

The governor said he's also going to move dosages around, giving more to the places that have been more effective in getting shots into people's arms.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report


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