Elected officials in New York would be barred from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination before priority groups receive their first doses under legislation being pushed by Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt.
The proposal comes as members of Congress over the weekend received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was in part to show skeptics the vaccine is safe for the general public to use, but the shots were administered before emergency medical technicians, nursing home residents, and other vulnerable groups were given their first doses.
“No elected official or politician at any level should be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine before front line workers, first responders, teachers, and vulnerable seniors," said Schmit, a lawmaker who represents the Hudson Valley.
"I will be introducing legislation for the new session to tackle this very issue, but call on the Governor and Health Commissioner to administratively implement this rule immediately in the vaccine distribution plan given the news that members of Congress have started to receive vaccines before priority New Yorkers have.”
President-elect Joe Biden, who is 78 and would fall into a category of people vulnerable to the virus, received the vaccine on Monday.
Schmitt is also urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take action administratively before legisaltion is considered.
"Given that the new legislative session is still several weeks away I urge you both to take administrative action and amend the vaccine distribution plan to put this restriction for elected officials and politicians into effect immediately," Schmitt wrote in a letter to Cuomo.
"The timing of instituting this restriction has become critical after it has been widely reported over the weekend Congress has been given priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Numerous New York members have publically boasted about receiving this vaccine before frontline workers and essential personnel have gotten it. This is outrageous and unacceptable."
Cuomo has previously indicated he would take the vaccine early to show it is safe. But on Monday Cuomo appeared to acknowledge the optics of healthy and prominent people receiving the vaccine first.
“I had said I would take it as soon as the panel authorized it, and I’m willing to take it," Cuomo said. "The flip side is, I don’t want anyone saying, well, you took the vaccine and it should have got to an essential worker."
The state this week is set to receive hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.