Counties change vaccination strategy as demand for appointments decreases

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Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 20, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As supply of the COVID-19 vaccine increases, demand for vaccine appointments is now decreasing. Now, counties are shifting their vaccination strategies to tackle zip codes with the least amount of people vaccinated.

"We're seeing this throughout the region and throughout the state where people who really wanted and raced to get the vaccine have now received it, so our appointments are slowing down and we do need to now pivot our strategies," Christine Schuyler, the director of health and human services for Chautauqua County said.

"We're basically doing the throw everything at the wall model and see what sticks," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

One of the strategies is to hold walk-in clinics. Erie County is offering walk-up vaccine appointments at ECC North and ECC South.

"We do know we live in a society of convenience. There are people out there who may not have taken the time to schedule an appointment and didn't really want to have to plan ahead and book it out, but if there's a walk in clinic where they can just drive by and stop in and get their shot and be done, I think people will start to do that," Schuyler said.

Another strategy is to target specific zip codes with low vaccination rates through schools or community centers.

"We are working with community centers. We are going to be doing more pop up clinics and announcing them within walking capability," Poloncarz said.

"We're working with the school administrations to have a clinic within the school so we can target the families of the students of the school as well as the community at large who are within walking distance of that school," Schuyler said.

Counties are also pushing the state to change its 7-day rule which mandates all vaccines be used within one week of receiving them.

"That hasn't been a problem when we were doing mass sites and people were really wanting vaccine. But now that things are slowing down, that 7 day window is a deterrent to vaccine providers. They don't want to order vaccine and then receive it and then not be able to push it out within that 7 day rule that exists only in New York state," Schuyler said.

"I know doctors offices that would be willing to take it if they could do it over a greater than 7-day period. It is something New York state is aware of because we are not the only county that's starting to deal with this," Poloncarz said.