Probe underway into reports that health network distributed COVID-19 vaccine in violation of NY guidelines
An investigation is underway into reports that an Orange County-based health care provider may have "fraudulently obtained" the COVID-19 vaccine and given it to members of the public without following New York's vaccine prioritization guidelines.
A statement released Saturday by state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says ParCare Community Health Network "may have fraudulently obtained [the] COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public."
It goes on to say that this would be "contrary to the state's plan to administer it first to front-line healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers."
"We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting state police in a criminal investigation into this matter. Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," Zucker said.
Residents in the community appear to agree.
"They should be prosecuted," says Yonkers resident John Tokar. "That's theft right there."
On Dec. 16, ParCare Health and Medical Center posted on Facebook that they were authorized to distribute the vaccine for people who fall under certain criteria. They also say they received thousands of doses of the Moderna vaccine on the morning of Dec. 21.
Parcare lists four locations in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan and one in Monroe, Orange County on its website.
Parcare Community Health Network released a statement, saying: "During these unprecedented times, we have striven to provide critical healthcare services and administer COVID-19 vaccinations to those qualified to receive them under the New York State Department of Health's guidelines, which includes frontline healthcare workers and first responders. Parcare Community Health Network 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. As we actively cooperate with the New York State Department of Health on this matter, we will continue to perform top-quality healthcare services to help New York come out of this pandemic."
The State Department of Health tells News 12 that the investigation is in progress and no further comment will be made at this time.