NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Niagara County Public Health Director Dan Stapleton said in just six hours the health department has distributed 2,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. He said it took hours of planning to make sure people can get their COVID-19 shot in under 20 minutes at the Transit Drive-in in Lockport.
"Days and days and hours. Weekends. In the middle of the night. Our person who puts this together, Elise Pignatora, works in the middle of the night to make sure things are ready for the next day," Stapleton said.
Stapleton said they distributed three different doses of the vaccine: Johnson and Johnson and both Moderna first and second doses. He said that's possible because those with appointments can stay in their cars.
"It creates social distancing for us right there. We went to Kenan and it's a great facility, but you have to make sure people are social distancing. Here, it's done. People are in their car. People who may have a mobility issue, we roll down the window and give them a vaccination right in their car. It's smooth. It's fast. It's consistent," Stapleton said.
Stapleton said that level of efficiency is only possible with the help of volunteers and community partners.
"It's not anything you envision when talking about running a drive-in theater. That people are going to be coming in and getting a pandemic vaccination. It's something we're happy we can help out with," Rick Cohen, the owner of the Transit Drive-in, said.
Cohen gave the health department access to his radio station. Elise Pignatora, Niagara County's Director of Public Health Planning and Emergency Prepardness, said Cohen went above and beyond by letting her take over his air waves to communicate with those waiting in their cars for the vaccine.
"At the health department we strive in our planning to do patient education and so in our discussions with the Transit Drive-In we thought of the idea to play it on the radio," Pignatora said.
"I mean it's a good feeling. It's a good feeling to be able to have the opportunity to help people out," Cohen said.
Stapleton said if they were given more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the health department could distribute 4,000-5,000 doses per day.