NEW York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been slammed after revealing drug addicts will get Covid vaccines ahead of the elderly.
Those recovering in residential rehab facilities will be among the next to receive the potentially life-saving jabs, it was disclosed.
During a virtual news conference, Cuomo said the state was expecting to receive 259,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
In addition to urgent care center employees and those administering the vaccine, he said shots would be given to residents of OASAS – the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
The agency runs 12 treatment centers across New York state and certifies and monitors hundreds of private facilities, according to reports.
“These are congregate facilities. Congregate facilities are problematic. That’s where you have a lot of people in concentration,” Cuomo said.
"Nursing homes are obviously the most problematic because they're congregate plus older, vulnerable people. OASAS facilities…they're congregate – not necessarily older- but congregate facilities," he continued.
"We'll then continue with high-risk hospital workers, federally qualified health center employees, EMS workers," Cuomo said.
Cuomo has already faced fierce criticism after more than 6,600 nursing home residents in New York died from coronavirus at the height of the pandemic.
The vaccine news has been slammed by many – including Ben Domenech who is the publisher of conservative online magazine The Federalist and one of Cuomo's fiercest critics.
He told Fox News: "About a month ago, Governor Cuomo was out there saying that he is going to sue to have control of the vaccine process when it came to a potential feud with the Trump administration.
"Now that he is given control of it, he is making already the same kind of decisions that we come to expect from him, full of bluster, full of stupidity, and without any kind of thought for the elderly citizens of New York State.
"Imagine a system in which that aforementioned woke left was determining which people should receive a vaccine based on equity. According, not to the medical needs, the health care needs of the people in the moment, but according to their own hierarchy of who would get it first."
Other also turned on Cuomo dubbing him the "Worst Governor in America".
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.tweeted: "The Worst Governor in America streak continues.
"This time prioritizing vaccines for drug addicts over tens of thousands of seniors who have been home bound since the start of the pandemic. An absolute disgrace."
However, many also took to Twitter to defend the move saying it made sense to vaccinate those who are "most likely to be spreaders."
And The Office of Addiction Services and Supports said drug users were being unfairly stigmatized.
"Unfortunately, there continues to be a stigma against those in recovery when it comes to equal access to health care," it said.
"These individuals deserve the same access to medical care as everyone else, and those at high risk of COVID should be vaccinated in line with other high-risk populations."
New York State Department of Health Spokesperson Gary Holmes insisted that nursing home residents are still being prioritized.
"Perpetuating a stigma against those in recovery when it comes to equal access to health care is bad, but doing it for equal access to the vaccine is even worse," he said.
"From the beginning, New York State has prioritized vaccine distribution to high-risk populations, including those in congregate care settings – like OASAS residents – where there is an increased danger of virus spread."
New York has been one of the hardest hit states during the pandemic with more than 950,000 cases and 37,000 deaths.
Experts have said Cuomo was initially slow to react to the coronavirus, letting the pathogen spread rapidly through the population before the state closed down.
He has also been accused of overriding plans to shut down New York City mid March – as wanted by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo instead pushed for a gradual closure tailored to avoid panic and encourage public compliance.
Millions continued to pack commuter trains and subways in the five-day span between Mayor de Blasio’s “shelter in place” comments and Cuomo’s eventual shutdown order.
By the time “New York on Pause” on March 22, about 25,000 New Yorkers had tested positive for Covid-19.
The virus soon would push the state’s hospital system to the brink and kill tens of thousands.
However, Cuomo’s office has always rebuked the criticisms, arguing that it acted on the best evidence and expert advice it had at the time.
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