Opening registration to preexisting health conditions troubles state vaccine distribution

Albany County

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State is exploring how to get about 5 million people with pre-existing health conditions vaccinated. It’s a feat even Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits may be difficult.

“It would be easier to do a list of who’s not eligible than who is eligible,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Dr. Alan Sanders is the Chief Medical Officer at St. Peter’s Health Partners Acute Care.

“I don’t know where the supply is going to come from, I assume Moderna is going to make 100 million extra doses by, hopefully by the summer time, but we’re talking about a large number of people,” Sanders said.

New Jersey’s governor recently opened registration to people with certain medical ailments including cancer, heart conditions and even smokers. Sanders said not all illnesses should be prioritized the same.

“The people who probably have the greatest risk are those individuals who have things like the solid organ transplant, kidney transplant, and they’re always on medication to prevent rejection of that organ that they’ve received,” Sanders said.

The chief medical officer said an example of a person who shouldn’t be high priority is someone whose immune system is compromised because of a pill they’re taking each day.

Pediatrician Dr. David Sapperstone is already hearing concerns from parents with kids who are immunocompromised.

“This disease has killed more people than all of World War II, 400,000,” Sapperstone said.

The state-wide vaccination distribution system is already taxed. Sapperstone said it may be difficult to make sure the right people are actually receiving the vaccine.  

“It’s going to be very hard to validate. People are going to have to sign an affidavit and they have to be truthful,” Sapperstone said.

Sanders on the other hand said his concern is that the shot gets into those who should be highly prioritized.

“You can be a really sick diabetic, where you’re very brittle and you don’t have good control of your disease, or you can be a diabetic who has very good control of your disease. So you have to rank people,” Sanders said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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