How are COVID-19 vaccines distributed in New York? The state won't say

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 6:10 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 17:04:41-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Governor's office and the New York State Department of Health share how many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives from the federal government, but exactly where it goes from there is unknown.

There are issues of supply and demand everywhere. Larry Seward is a senior reporter for WCPO in Cincinnati. He's been covering vaccine distribution in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

"It comes back to how much is available and there's simply not enough right now," Seward said, "The state tells them how many doses they're getting in a week, up to three weeks out in all states in this area."

7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia asked Seward if he knows how the federal allotments end up being distributed in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Seward said he does.

"There's an accountability system. All three states have a dashboard of some kind that you can go and look and see who has received vaccine," Seward said.

But that's not the case in New York. 7 Eyewitness News has asked the Governor's office and the state health department for a breakdown of vaccine distribution multiple times. Often, those questions are ignored.

Most recently, 7 Eyewitness News asked how many vaccines from this week's allotment will go to pharmacies, specific counties and state vaccination sites.

A representative from the Department of Health responded by telling 7 Eyewitness News the county level data is not available at this time. The representative said, "The information is not currently publicly available."

7 Eyewitness News asked why, but the representative has not responded. Seward said that doesn't happen in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana.

"When you ask them a question, do you generally get an answer?" 7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia asked Seward.

"Always. Without a question, always. Every single one of them," Seward replied.

New York is receiving more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, but that is not reflected in allotments to counties.

For the week of January 25th, the state said it received more than 410,000 doses from the federal government. Erie County said it received more than 9,000 doses.

But for the week of February 1st, the state received almost 430,000 doses. That's about 20,000 more doses than the week before. But according to Erie County, that week, it actually received a smaller share of the state's supply. Erie County said they only got 6,200 doses.

7 Eyewitness News asked the state health department why, and again, received no answer. That's not the case in other areas of the country.

"The latest I've had a health department get back to me about vaccine is maybe the next day. This is such an important issue," Seward said.

7 Eyewitness News will continue to ask the state and the Department of Health questions as we work to get answers for you.