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It will be months before vaccine is ready for general public

“As of right now, I do not have an answer"
Posted at 6:39 PM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 20:49:43-05

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The 170,000 of COVID-19 vaccines began arriving across New State Monday. 14,500 of those doses are also being sent to Western New York.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he expects the first batch of vaccines will be heading straight to the hospitals.

“I was under the impression from my sources, some pretty good sources, they were arriving today or tomorrow,” stated Poloncarz.

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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz at Monday's COVID briefing.

The county executive said they’ve been told the vaccine will be released in weekly batches, but he does not know when it will arrive at the Erie County Health Department.

“As of right now, I do not have an answer. They haven’t given us a timeline on date of reception,” Poloncarz replied.

Of those 14,500 doses for Western New York, hospitals and nursing homes are expected to receive them and those would be administered to hospital care workers on the front lines and nursing home staff and residents.

Poloncarz said there are security concerns with the vaccines.

“I actually think the state is very fearful of what could be considered almost highjacking of these — if people knew when and where these were being received — unfortunately it already sounds like there is a black market out there,” Poloncarz described.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center releasing these photos of this new freezer needed to store the Pfizer vaccine.

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Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center has a special freezer for the vaccine.

Niagara County Public Health director Daniel Stapleton says they are also ready for the vaccines arrival.

“We’re probably looking at sometime the end of February is what we're expecting — of course that depends on the supply,” Stapleton.

Stapleton said the Niagara County Public Health Department also has a freezer for storage.

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Niagara County Public Health director Daniel Stapleton in a Zoom interview.

“We have an agreement with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center as well as Niagara University to use their ultra cold storage as well,” explained Stapleton.

What's still unclear is when vaccines will arrive at local hospitals?

A spokesperson for Catholic Health says nothing is happening at their locations as of Monday.

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Outside Kaleida Health Hospitals in Buffalo.

Kaledia Health and ECMC say they will be releasing more information about the vaccines in the days ahead.

We received this statement from ECMC:

“As has been reported, vaccines will be available for ECMC caregivers in the coming weeks. We have been working over the past several weeks to prepare for this and we have established a vaccine task force that will oversee and coordinate the process of providing the vaccine to every member of our ECMC family. The priority of staff will follow very prescriptive guidelines provided by the NYS DOH. Our frontline workers have been there for us and we are thrilled we all can be there for them – providing this vaccine, so they can continue their lifesaving work with added protection.”

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center also issued a statement:

“We expect that Roswell Park will receive our first shipment of vaccine any day now for our frontline healthcare workers.”

The vaccine will not be available to the general public for months. But governor Cuomo is urging everyone to take it.

“Because the vaccine only works if the American people take it — they estimate we need 75-percent to 85-percent of Americans to take the vaccine for it to be effective,” Cuomo stated.

County Executive Poloncarz did not disclose potential sites for the vaccine.

He noted that many people in the public are already calling about receiving the vaccines.

But Poloncarz says the general public won’t receive them for months.

“People think the vaccine is available now for general public — and it’s not,” Poloncarz emphasized.