Brooklyn clinic says it returned COVID-19 vaccines amid probe

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A Brooklyn-based health care company said Sunday that it “proactively returned” its remaining stash of COVID-19 vaccines amid a criminal probe into allegations the doses were fraudulently obtained and diverted.

In a prepared statement, ParCare Community Health Network also insisted it followed all proper procedures to get the Moderna vaccines and was approved to administer the shots by both the state Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The company said it “provided the documentation regarding the proper receipt of the vaccines to the NYS DOH.”

“In an effort to fully cooperate with NYS DOH, ParCare has proactively returned its vaccines pending the Department’s review,” according to the statement.

“We are confident the end result of that review will show that ParCare at all times exerted best efforts to comply with all NYS DOH requirements and will allow us to continue to achieve our number one goal of providing these critical vaccines to the New Yorkers who need them most.”

The Moderna vaccine is designed to be administered in two doses 28 days apart.

The ParCare spokesperson who released Sunday’s statement didn’t immediately say how people who had been vaccinated by the company would get their second doses.

On Saturday, state Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker said the New York State Police was investigating allegations that ParCare “may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public.”

Zucker’s statement said the investigation involved ParCare’s clinic in Orange County, which is one of six it operates.

The others are located in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and a report posted last week on the BoroPark24 website said 3,500 vaccines had been distributed to the company’s various sites.

A city official on Sunday said it hadn’t dispensed any vaccines to ParCare.

New York state guidelines call for the first round of vaccines to go to front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

ParCare CEO Gary Schlesinger reportedly told BoroPark24 that the company was giving shots to people who were “either a healthcare worker, are over 60 or have underlying conditions.”

A since-removed photo on Twitter, posted by the Rabbinical Alliance of America on Tuesday, showed Schlesinger receiving one of the highly coveted shots himself.

The state DOH didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan

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