BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Starting Tuesday, New Yorkers 16 and older will be able to book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. Those 18 and older are eligible to take the Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson or Moderna shot. 16 and 17-year-olds can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Dr. Nancy Nielsen, the lead for the Western New York Vaccination Planning Team, said you'll most likely find Pfizer doses for those under 18 at state-run mass vaccination sites.
Dr. Nielsen said doctor's offices and pharmacies may also get the Pfizer vaccine, but it's unlikely. The vaccine is distributed in trays of nearly 1200 doses, and those doses must be used within a week. Once one of the vials is opened, the doses must be used within hours.
"The state run mass vaccination sites, just because of the volume, because they can handle that volume, are much more likely than a doctors office or even a county clinic to have Pfizer so that is a very good bet for a 16 or 17 year old," Dr. Nielsen said.
Dr. Nielsen said counties occasionally receive the Pfizer vaccine. Chautauqua County is the only county that has Pfizer doses for this week. Christine Schuyler, the public health director for Chautauqua County, said Pfizer is mainly kept at state sites because it requires special storage and dilution.
"The state, I believe, has pretty much been keeping the Pfizer vaccine at the state sites because of the storage requirements, and it's just a little bit more to handle it. It's been best used at those state mass sites," Schuyler said.
Chautauqua County will be holding two Pfizer vaccine clinics this week: Tuesday at the SUNY Fedonia campus and Thursday at Jamestown Community College.
Schuyler said those ages 16 and 17 must have a parent or legal guardian present in order to receive the vaccine. Parents or legal guardians can also provide a letter with their consent for the vaccine to be administered. An adult over 18 must still accompany the 16 or 17-year old with the letter. The letter must contain the child's name, the name of the adult present with the child, and the parent or legal guardian's name and consent.
Click here to find a list of New York State-operated vaccination locations and availability. The website also lists which kids of vaccines are available.