UB South COVID vaccination site fully booked until April 16

Counties calling for more coordination
Posted at 3:00 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 06:57:46-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team has been working to get you information about the state-run vaccination site at UB South. There has been plenty of frustration trying to book an appointment at this site.

We've now learned the state-run vaccination site at UB South is fully booked through April 16.

But for many weeks, the state's Am I Eligible website has said no appointments available.

When did these appointments -- that are suddenly booked -- actually open up? When was the last time a vaccine appointment was available at UB South? How many doses doses of the vaccine does UB South have right now?

These questions remain a mystery because the state Department of Health has not provided answers.

"More people really expected to access it than have been able to," said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health and Human Services in Chautauqua County.

Even Schuyler is still waiting for information about how many doses are available, outside of the health department allotment.

Schuyler has requested information from the state about who is providing the vaccine in Chautauqua County, weekly allotments and other data. Still, she has no answers.

"I feel that local health departments are the Switzerland of public health for our counties and we are relied upon as that source of information," Schuyler said. "We know our communities. We know where our vulnerable communities are. We know what efforts need to be put into place. We've been doing this for years."

Schuyler says many people she serves are calling the office, frustrated they can't get an appointment for a vaccine. She says their expectation and belief is the county is in control and has more information about the vaccine than they actually do.

"We are the ones who should have all the information so we can best serve the residents of our county," Schuyler said. "That's what we're charged with doing."

But there's a problem.

"In this pandemic, local health departments are not the one coordinating the vaccination plan," Schuyler said. "The only vaccine numbers we know for a fact are our own and what our allocation is. We know how much we ask the state for. We know how much we get allocated, but we are not privy to how much vaccine is going to hospitals, pharmacies, federally qualified healthcare centers...unless we talk among ourselves and locally we are able to get that information."

The state reports 11.2% of the population in Chautauqua County has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Compare that to 13.4% of the population in Erie County and 9.7% in Cattaraugus County.

Still, Schuyler is still looking for a more coordinated response.

"The bureaucracy in New York is such that the Governor's chambers really seem to be guiding and controlling the pandemic response... including the vaccine roll-out... and that's all well and good. They have the ability to do that," Schuyler said. "But at the same time, I'm really disappointed there hasn't been a better partnership and a better respect for an alliance with the public health officials, both at the state level as well as local health departments."

Schuyler says, she's hopeful the tide is turning and the state realizes there needs to be a partnership to make sure there is fair and equitable distribution of this vaccine.

Meantime, we'll keep watching those UB appointments and update you when we get answers to our questions from the state.