SUNY Fredonia partners with Chautauqua County Department of Health on mass COVID-19 vaccine site

Posted at 1:50 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 23:41:12-05

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WKBW) — The State University of New York at Fredonia announced Wednesday it has entered into an agreement with the Chautauqua County Department of Health (CCDOH) to establish a mass COVID-19 vaccination site for eligible residents in the region.

The site will be in the Ice Arena complex in Steele Hall on the SUNY Fredonia campus when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel said ths has been part of the county's vaccination plans for awhile, and now there's enough vaccine to follow through. He said the county has previously used the campus for H1N1 vaccine clinics.

“It can really make this an efficient system, and an easy way to vaccinate people,” Wendel said.

He said the county received 800 doses this week, and depending on supply the site could open in a few days.

“We are running vaccination hubs on Friday and Saturday, both in the north and south, so my belief is that there will be a north end at SUNY Fredonia this weekend,” Wendel said.

CCDOH will schedule appointments and administer the vaccine.

“SUNY Fredonia is committed to being good partners with our surrounding community,” said Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison Jr. “As I have indicated, public institutions of higher education must be of, and for, the communities in which they operate to remain highly relevant. This agreement is a manifestation of the seriousness we bring to our role in this community. In these unprecedented times, collaboration is key to moving us beyond this terrible pandemic.”

Wendel said he could see the site doing 1,000 shots a day based on the size of the facility and the county's staff. The county's weekly allocation is currently less than that.

“As vaccine supply increases, sites like the SUNY Fredonia campus with large, open venues and ample parking will be necessary to accommodate the number of people we anticipate needing to vaccinate,” said Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler. “We are grateful for the partnership and support of SUNY Fredonia in accomplishing this monumental task.”

You can find more information on COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Chautauqua County here.

Wendel said this plan is unrelated to an NBC News report from earlier this week.

The report said the 'Social Vulnerability Index' federal officials use to rank vaccination sites suggested Chautauqua County, but that state officials said no to a site.

This drew critcicim from local lawmakers, including Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning), who is considering a run for governor.

“It is very frustrating to me, to see the political motivation of the governor’s office that appears to be the basis for his advocacy to remove a mass vaccination site from Western New York and the Southern Tier,” Reed said.

The state said no plans for a mass vaccination site in the county were canceled. A full statement from a Cuomo administration spokesperson is below.

“FEMA and the CDC set forth criteria for which counties and communities were eligible based on social vulnerability index, vaccination rates, and other factors, and dozens of locations across the state met those criteria - we wish we had the supply to do a site in each. It is false any plans for a mass vaccination sitein Chautauqua County were canceled — the state is unaware of any such plans for such a site. None existed. New York State selected areas that best fit the criteria for increasing equitable vaccination access in predominately minority communities where access is lowest, hesitancy rates are the highest, and vaccination rates are below average. We look forward to continuing to partner with local health departments and providers as we explore all options to get more shots in arms faster as the federal government increases the supply of vaccines.” ​
Will Burns, First Deputy Press Secretary

Reed said there's now indications there will be a state run site. His office confirmed this is a separate plan from the county's Fredonia site.

“I'm glad to be able to report to you that we are getting indications from that push back to the governor's office that a mass vaccination site is highly likely now to be reestablished and put in to the Southern tier,” Reed said.