Cuomo: Feds vaccine plan neglects minority, low-income communities hard hit by COVID

ALBANY (WCBS 880) — The federal government on Tuesday will outline plans for a coronavirus vaccine distribution plan, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already concerned about access to the medicine.

Cuomo and a coalition of groups have already sent a letter to Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging the federal administration to support underserved communities and protect undocumented immigrants in the federal COVID-19 vaccination program.

The governor says the current plan is already neglecting vaccine distribution in underserved and low-income communities, as well as minority and immigrant communities.

“I believe that is discrimination either by intent or by affect and I believe it's illegal,” he said.

Cuomo also says the Trump administration is also deliberately trying to sabotage vaccine distribution plans by refusing to provide states with federal funding.

“It is an expensive undertaking, and the federal government has provided virtually no funding for the states to do this,” the governor said.

He notes targeted campaigns are needed to build trust in the vaccine, and says the federal government should fund the effort.

“The states are not in a position to fund the vaccination process. The states are running deficits the federal government has any been funded the current deficit,” he said.

He is also looking to make sure that the federal government cannot request the personal information of every vaccine recipient, which would put undocumented immigrants at risk.

“’HHS can share this data with other federal agencies.’ Anybody who reads that language, who knows what they’re talking about, a little bell goes off and it says, ‘They’re going to share it with ICE,’” Cuomo said.

The New York governor says minority and low-income communities were the hardest hit by the pandemic and should be among the first groups to receive the medicine.

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