Counties shift focus from mass vaccination sites to smaller clinics

Resurgence pop-up clinic
Posted at 5:50 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 17:53:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mass vaccination clinics, where counties could vaccinate thousands of individuals, may soon be a thing of the past.

"They're feasible, but whether they're sustainable is really the issue. They're not full, so it may be that those kinds of mass vaccination sites are really not the way to reach people. I think the mass vaccination sites are frankly not long for this world," Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the lead for the WNY Vaccination Planning Team, said.

Niagara County has a mass vaccination clinic scheduled Thursday at the Transit Drive-in and their final mass vaccination clinic there next week.

"We've done about 35 since the crisis began. Then we knew a few weeks ago the demand for vaccine had diminished. The ability to do 4,000-5,000 a week like we have been doing. We just don't need that kind of infrastructure to operate," Dan Stapleton, the public health director of Niagara County, said.

Counties are switching their focus to smaller clinics that accept walk-ins.

"We're trying to get the areas that don't have close proximity to those mass vaccination sites and also don't necessarily have a hospital or don't have a primary care provider that can vaccinate them. We're really trying to go to the areas where the data shows those areas are under the state average in terms of vaccination rates. We're pinpointing those areas and hoping this will be more convenient," Stapleton said.

"If it's at their work or their place of worship or it's a fun thing like a shot and a beer or a pre-prom clinic, that's what's fun and that's what is appealing to those people who aren't the ones who were just clamoring," Dr. Nielsen said.

In a statement to 7 Eyewitness News, a representative for the Erie County Department of Health said:

"The decrease in overall vaccine demand reflects a trend seen nationwide. ECDOH has an active calendar planned and working with additional community partners to schedule more unique events where Erie County residents like to go in the warm weather. We will announce those events/incentives once the details are in place.

The most efficient method – having everyone travel to a few centralized sites – worked for the first few months of the year. We are switching up our vaccine clinic model to move away from the large, centralized sites and into more flexible, accessible locations that meet people where they are – close to their home, close to their work or when they are out and about at events. Multiple, smaller vaccine clinics will be more convenient and comfortable for Erie County residents, such as small popup clinics at senior housing, village and town halls, houses of worship, Erie County Parks events, business/workplace sites, festivals and other community events that will by design have smaller turnouts. Since we can’t expect to reach hundreds of people at a time, we are going to shift and reach dozens at a time instead. Now that the weather is warmer, we have already started to deploy our mobile RV unit in different parts of the county. It was stationed in Farnham and Akron last week.

As other information, right now ECDOH has a very robust supply of Moderna and Pfizer available. We are supplying pediatrician offices with smaller quantities of Pfizer vaccine so they can vaccinate their patients and not worry so much about that vaccines more complicated storage requirements. Pfizer and Moderna will be available at three school-based vaccine clinics in May, with more to be scheduled. Our homebound program is continuing with Johnson and Johnson."