POMONA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under pressure to dramatically increase the pace of coronavirus vaccinations.

On Tuesday, health departments in the northern suburbs finally were pressed into service. And as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, some leaders urged the governor to let them do even more.

Three weeks after vaccinations began at New York hospitals, the Rockland County Department of Health is finally part of the process. It received a shipment of 1,000 Moderna doses. The first went to Julie Krauchuk, the director of patient services and then dozens of other health department workers who will help lead the county’s expanded vaccination effort — when the state allows it to begin.

“Vaccination is what we do. This is what we are trained for. We do it every day in our immunization clinic for a lot of other different kinds of diseases. So, we are ready to go,” Krauchuk said.


Rockland and other counties hold annual mock clinics as part of a mandate to prepare for mass vaccination events. However, the Cuomo administration rolled out a distribution play initially relying on hospitals, not health departments.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said Albany ignored its many years of pandemic preparation.

“We’ve invested a huge amount of time, talent and resource to do this. You have a perfectly good plane waiting on the runway to take off. Instead, the state chose to build the plane while it’s flying,” Molinaro said.

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On Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo said a plan to increase health department involvement is in the works.

Health departments say they are hearing from many everyday New Yorkers who are anxious to get the vaccine. The health department in Rockland gets dozens of phone calls every day.

“Every day, we have, unfortunately, more people who succumb to COVID, so we are happy to get this moving as quickly as possible and correctly as possible,” Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel-Ruppert said.

They are anxious to do what they’ve been trained to do — vaccinate lots of people. That is, whenever the supply is at hand, and the state gives the okay.

CBS2’s Tony Aiello contributed to this report

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