State Police investigating COVID-19 vaccine distribution outside of protocols – Times Union

NEW YORK (AP) — Police and health officials were probing Saturday whether an Orange County health care provider violated state guidelines in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement that his office and State Police were investigating ParCare Community Health Network in Orange County.

Zucker said he had received reports that ParCare may have fraudulently obtained the vaccine and diverted it to other facilities to be given to members of the public. The state has prioritized front-line health care workers, long-term care residents and staffers to receive the vaccine first. The first vaccine in the state was given to a critical care nurse in Queens on Dec. 14.

“We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter,” Zucker said. “Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

ParCare lists four locations in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan and one in the village of Monroe, Orange County on its website.

In an emailed statement, the company said it would cooperate with the investigation and that it “has a long history of partnering with the city of New York to provide vital healthcare services to New Yorkers who need them most — including providing COVID-19 testing — especially for New Yorkers in medically underserved communities who’ve been hardest hit by COVID-19.”

On Dec. 21 ParCare tweeted pictures of  “thousands” of doses it received, as well as a picture of a rabbi receiving the vaccine on Dec. 24.  Statements from ParCare the same day said they were providing Moderna vaccines to people who signed up online if they were older than age 60, or who had underlying medical conditions.

“Hundreds of patients were already vaccinated today, and people are still coming in,” Gary Schlesinger, the CEO and president of ParCare, said in a statement earlier in the week.

The Associated Press and Times Union’s Lauren Stanforth contributed to this report


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