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New York, Florida tell hospitals to dispense COVID-19 vaccines quicker or lose supply

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(Reuters) - New York state will begin fining hospitals that do not administer allotted COVID-19 vaccines within a week of receiving their supplies and will decline to provide them with further doses, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference on Monday.

The U.S. federal government has distributed more than 13 million vaccine doses to states and territories around the country, but only around 4 million have actually been administered, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last updated on Saturday.

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker notified hospitals of the potential actions in a letter on Sunday, Cuomo told reporters.

“I don’t want the vaccine in a fridge or a freezer, I want it in somebody’s arm,” he said. “If you’re not performing this function, it does raise questions about the operating efficiency of the hospital.”

In Florida, where officials have put senior citizens ahead of many essential workers for getting the vaccine, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a policy under which the state would allocate doses to hospitals that dispense them most quickly,

“Hospitals that do not do a good job of getting the vaccine out will have their allocations transferred to hospitals that are doing a good job at getting the vaccine out,” DeSantis said at a briefing.

“We do not want vaccine to just be idle at some hospital system,” he added, though he did not say they would face fines.

Florida will also deploy an additional 1,000 nurses to administer vaccines and will keep state-run vaccination sites open seven days a week, he said.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell, Rebecca Spalding, Peter Szekely and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

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