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Cuomo Admits New York's Vaccine Sign Up System Is Overwhelmed

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Mike Groll
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed major problems plaguing the state’s vaccine sign up website, saying there are vastly more New Yorkers eligible to be vaccinated than there are vaccines.

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, and all state facilities offering vaccines are now booked through April.

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

He said 7 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 said this week, the state received just 250,000 doses of vaccine. He said at the present rate, it will take six months to get the 7 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 said the state is still seeking guidance about which conditions should be included, but he said that could potentially add 5 million more people to the already overwhelmed system.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.