Gov. Andrew Cuomo was among the nine governors on Friday who pushed federal officials in a letter to free up more access to vaccination doses for the coronavirus.
The letter comes as COVID cases and deaths have increased sharply across the country over the last several weeks and as vaccine distribution as stumbled across the country.
"According to publicly reported information, the federal government currently has upwards of 50% of currently produced vaccines held back by the administration for reasons unknown," the governors wrote in the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Chief Operating Officer General Gustave F. Perna.
"While some of these life-saving vaccines are sitting in Pfizer freezers, our nation is losing 2,661 Americans each day, according to the latest seven-day average. The failure to distribute these doses to states who request them is unconscionable and unacceptable. We demand that the federal government begin distributing these reserved doses to states immediately."
Signing on to the letter were Cuomo, along with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.
The letter also comes as Cuomo in New York has signaled the state will increase vaccination distribution in the state and allow people in the next phase -- including those over age 75, teachers, police officers and firefighters -- to schedule a vaccination date. The state also has found more than 1,000 sites for vaccination distribution.
"Our states are ready to work around the clock to ramp up distribution, get more shots in arms, and save more American lives. General Perna, as you have stated before, 'a vaccine sitting on a shelf is not effective,'" the letter states. "We couldn't agree with you more. That's why we are asking for your help now. When we work together, we can end this pandemic and return to a life of normalcy sooner."
New York has about 430,000 vaccines that are yet to be used; 479,000 doses have been administered so far.