New York health provider investigated for illegal use of COVID vaccine

ParCare Community Health distributed the vaccine to members of the public instead of frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff

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A New York medical provider is currently under investigation for fraudulently obtaining and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.

ParCare Community Health Network, a multi-specialty treatment center that offers primary care and other services, became the center of a criminal investigation after suspicions of how the center acquired and distributed the vaccine, reports Newsweek.

Read More: Pharmacy deserts expose racial and socioeconomic gap in vaccine access

Michelle Chester, DNP, director of employee health services at Northwell Health, shows the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital on December 21, 2020 in Valley Stream, New York. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

The investigation, led by the New York State Police, is being assisted by officials from the Department of Health.

In a series of tweets issued on Sunday, ParCare expressed its intentions to “actively cooperate” in the investigation.

“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.”

In an official statement from New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker released on Saturday, the department confirmed the investigation and that the center distributed the vaccine to members of the public instead of frontline healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and staff members.

“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.

Read More: Experts believe vaccines will be effective against new variants of virus

Pharmacy deserts prove to be a concern that has come to light since the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine and the uneven distribution among the Black and Brown lower-income communities.

(Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

As CNN reported, Chicago resident Rochelle Sykes expressed her concerns for some communities lacking grocery stores or pharmacies in reach for fellow residents to have access to the vaccine once available.

“If they’re going to roll out a vaccine and they’re going to roll it out to grocery stores and pharmacies, I see a problem,” Sykes said. “Is it going to be free? That’s one question. And how are they going to get there to get it?”

Rev. Marshall Elijah Hatch Sr., of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church on the west side of Chicago echoed the concerns of underserved communities and the current barriers.

“It’s going to be a mad scramble particularly if this vaccine is seen as safe and effective,” Hatch said. “It’s very difficult to imagine that there’s going to be some kind of egalitarian distribution. We are going to have to fight.”

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