ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York state said pharmacies must focus on vaccinating those 65-years old and older. Counties were instructed to vaccinate first responders, medical workers and others eligible for vaccination in phase 1a and 1b, but not those 65 and above.
"We're being told to vaccinate 65 years of age and older which is a very large percent of the population here in New York state. Unfortunately, we don't have the means to do so. We don't have the vaccines, we can't vaccinate. We can't make appointments for vaccines we don't have," Kathy Sautter, public and media relations manager for Tops Friendly Markets, said.
January 14th, Tops pharmacies began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. That week they received 6,000 doses. This week pharmacies have received just 200 doses. That is more than a 96% reduction in their vaccine allotment between the week of January 14th and the week of February 1st.
The state received 209,400 doses from the federal government for the week of 1/11 to 1/17. New York received 250,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses for the week of 1/25 to 1/31.
"When we got our beginning vaccinations from the state they were very generous in the very beginning. But those vaccination allocations have definitely dropped off in the past several weeks. In the beginning we had a surge and since that time we've slowly seen those allocations dip off," Sautter said.
There are 51 Tops pharmacies across the state. With just 200 vaccines allotted this week, that leaves about 4 vaccine doses per pharmacy if distributed equally.
"Which is a very large decrease in what we've seen in previous weeks. I think those appointments, as they have in weeks past, will be swept up pretty quickly by those looking for appointments," Sautter said.
Sautter said only way to book a vaccine appointment is to head to their website and schedule online. She said appointments are very limited due to a limited supply of the vaccine, therefore you should be refreshing the as often as you can to see if an appointment pops up.
"Become best friends with the F5 key on your computer. If you're a senior in that 65 plus category and you can enlist the help of friends and family, we're hearing that works for a lot of people. If you have children who can assist you to help you do that, grandchildren, reach out. Get the masses to help you," Sautter said.
Sautter said Tops is doing all they can do receive more doses of the COVID-19 so they can continue to vaccinate those 65-years-old and older.
"Every week we ask for an allocation and we hope for the best. We really, like all other pharmacies, are at the mercy of the state's allocation that we receive from the federal government. Speaking with other pharmacies, we're all in the same boat. We are hearing other pharmacies are not receiving anything," Sautter said.