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Niagara County leaders frustrated over vaccine allocation

Requested 6500 doses, received 800
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Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 21:20:33-05

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Niagara County leaders are upset over the state's most recent vaccine allocation to the health department.

Niagara County Legislature Chairman Becky Wydysh and Director of Public Health Dan Stapleton said it does not appear the county will get the 6,500 doses of the vaccine it requested from the state.

Stapleton said Niagara County requested 5,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and 1500 doses of the Moderna vaccine. The county only received 800 first doses of Moderna.

“We are disappointed and are working with the state to find out why we didn’t get the requested allotment and more importantly, how we can get more vaccine flowing into Niagara County,” said Wydysh. “Yes, we are frustrated, but we do not want to lose focus on our goal of getting shots in arms as quickly as possible.”

Stapleton said the county has the capacity to distribute 6,500 doses per week. He said that's why receiving small vaccine allotments is frustrating, and it is unclear why it has happened.

"We have our plans which we work on every single year. We adjust them. We modify them every year. We're mandated to do that and send them to the State Department of Health to get approval, which we have. But the plans aren't being used. The way we want to fully implement... We have not been able to fully implement our plans. It's frustrating that we have the capacity. We have the staff. We have everything we need, every single thing we need, except for the vaccine," Stapleton said.

Stapleton said there's no consistency to how the state distributes and delivers the vaccine, which makes planning vaccination clinics challenging.

"Mondays we get it. Tuesdays we get it. We've got it on Thursdays. I'm hoping to get a shipment on Thursday or Friday, but I don't know that until it arrives on my doorstep. There's no set day and time. That's why it's hard to plan because I will not book appointments unless I have the vaccine," Stapleton said.

Stapleton said with the number of people eligible to take the vaccine increasing, it's getting harder to plan ahead.

"With the number of people eligible increasing weekly, and sometimes daily like today, and having no increase in the vaccine you're getting, all it does is creates more anxiety for us, for our residents and for their families," Stapleton said.

Stapleton said this can all be resolved by having the state completely turn vaccines over to county level health departments.

"We've shown we can do it. We have the plans to implement. I think we know our communities. I think we could do a fantastic job if we were just given the vaccine to do that," Stapleton said.

Jack Sterne, an Administration Spokesperson for Governor Cuomo's office issued this statement:
“Last week, we asked every county how many doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine they could administer if we had unlimited supply — but we were clear that this was a planning exercise and no allocations were guaranteed. It’s unfortunate that Niagara County misinformed the public that they would receive these doses.”

The governor's office also says they have worked with Niagara County to secure approximately 1,000 additional doses for this week, and is planning a mass vaccination site in Niagara Falls in the near future.