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Cuomo Admits NY Vaccine Sign-Up System Is Overwhelmed

People wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the University at Albany
Jesse King
People wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the University at Albany

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday addressed major problems plaguing the state’s COVID-19 vaccine sign-up website, saying there are more New Yorkers eligible to be vaccinated than there are shots.Thousands of frustrated New Yorkers spent hours trying to sign up at the state health department website, which repeatedly crashed or shut people out before they could complete sign-up forms. Others spent hours fruitlessly on hold on a state hotline before being disconnected.

Some did get through though, and all state facilities offering vaccines are now booked through April.

Cuomo blames the federal government for expanding eligibility too soon. He says the state was already struggling to arrange appointments for essential health care workers and those over age 75, when the directive came from the CDC on Tuesday to expand access to those 65 and older.

He says seven million New Yorkers, or about half the state’s adult population, are now eligible, but New York is receiving around 300,000 doses per week.

“And that entire flood has to go through a syringe,” said Cuomo. 

Cuomo says this week, the state received just 250,000 doses. He says at the present rate, it will take six months to get the seven million vaccinated.

The CDC also recommends that people who are immune compromised or who have underlying conditions that could make them much sicker or at higher risk of death from the virus should also be eligible for vaccines. Cuomo says the state is still seeking guidance about which conditions should be included, but he says that could potentially add five million more people to the already overwhelmed system.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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