Health officials addressing issues with finding a place to get vaccinated

Charles Molineaux
Updated: January 11, 2021 11:13 PM
Created: January 11, 2021 10:51 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Now that the state is opening up coronavirus vaccines to more people, some in the Rochester area are finding frustration as they try to take advantage of the opportunity.

Under phase 1b of the state’s vaccine schedule, those over the age of 75, along with essential workers like police, first responders, teachers, grocery store workers, those who staff, or are in, homeless shelters are now eligible. 

"There's huge miscommunication, someplace,” Howard Merritt of Webster sighed.

With COVID-19 shots opening up to people over 75 in phase 1B of the state's plan, Howard Merritt wanted to get his 86-year-old father vaccinated and, from the state's coronavirus website, he got the locations of four pharmacies in Webster but got the same answer when he went to each of them. 

"I went up to the pharmacy at Wegmans and I told him what was going on and they were like ‘we have no idea what you're talking about. Who gave you this information?' So I said, ‘Well, the New York State Department of health!'" 

"It's very, very frustrating. There is no question about that,” granted Nancy Bennett, MD of URMC, the head of the Finger Lakes Vaccination Task Force.

She explained that the system to get people vaccinated in the area, through locations at area pharmacies is a work in progress, with not enough workers trained and qualified to give vaccines yet, and vaccine doses only slowly making their way here. 

“We are at the mercy of New York state vaccine distribution,” she said. “But New York State is at the mercy of federal vaccine distribution and so it's very hard to predict, and we usually don’t hear… until when the vaccine arrives, essentially, how much different providers are getting.“

In his state of the state address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out plans to get the state inoculated.

“We must vaccinate 70 to 90% of our 20 million New Yorkers,” he declared, “And we must do it quickly, safely, and fairly.”

Bennett says the numbers of medical workers getting shots under phase 1a had been dropping off so it seemed a good time to open up to more people in phase 1b.  But she says hitting the target of vaccinating “enough” of the region’s 1.2 million people will mean giving thousands of shots a week and much of the infrastructure to do that isn’t quite ready.

“It’s really really important that we manage expectations,” she said. “Again, we are all going to get our vaccine. I haven’t had mine yet either but we will get it but we have to be patient."


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