© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Cuomo sends letter to Trump, Biden, raising concerns about fed’s vaccination rollout

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent a letter to the Trump administration and President-elect Joe Biden, raising concerns about the federal government’s vaccination program, and proposing some changes. The governor said distributing the vaccine will be the greatest governmental undertaking since the start of the pandemic.

Cuomo highlighted what he said are a few problems with the federal government’s plan. First, it’s expensive, and so far the federal government hasn’t provided enough funding for states to rollout the vaccination program. Next, he said it’s going to be especially difficult to administer the vaccine in Black, brown and poor communities.

“Just like we went through with the COVID tests, they’re underserved by health care facilities and their rate of skepticism is higher,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to be an extensive effort to outreach to Black, brown and poor communities.”

Black and brown people have died from COVID-19 at a higher rate than white people.

Cuomo’s third issue is that the federal government requires states sign a data sharing agreement and that people who get vaccinated must show proof of identification in the form of a Social Security number, driver’s license or passport. That information would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, which could then share it with other federal agencies, like ICE. Cuomo said that would dissuade undocumented immigrants from getting the vaccine.

“That will then impede the health of the undocumented community, but it will also impede the effectiveness of the entire vaccination program,” Cuomo said. “The vaccination program only works if everyone is vaccinated. You need to get up near 80% of the community for the vaccine to be effective.”

New York state is proposing two changes. First, the state will track those who get vaccinated without identifying personal information to the federal government. And second, any data the state does provide to the federal government should be kept private, like any other health matter.

Cuomo said he’s confident Biden will be on his side. But the vaccination program is being put in place by the Trump administration, making states sign this agreement now because distribution of the vaccine will take place before Biden is sworn in on January 20.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.