WESTERN NEW YORK (WKBW) — Counties across Western New York have been preparing to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine since March, but really, they've had mass vaccination plans in place for decades.
"We do think this is the game changer for the continuous spread of this virus," Dr. Kevin Watkins, public health director for Cattaraugus County, said.
"We've been really well positioned in Western New York to work together. In reality, the local health officials are working together the most and the best. We feel we are ready and able and up for this challenge," Christine Schuyler, public health director for Chautauqua County, said.
Right now, the counties are vaccinating group 1A, which includes health care workers, nursing homes and EMS. The next group will be essential workers and those 75 and older.
"Our vaccines will not be available to the general population for several months, probably not until later in the spring or the early summer," Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner, said.
"Somebody comes up and they're not registered, they're not going to be vaccinated," Dan Stapleton, public health director for Niagara County, said.
If you qualify for the vaccine, you must register and schedule your appointment online.
"Bring that document with you, and we'll put a vaccine in your arm," Dr. Watkins said.
Some vaccine distribution sites are drive through, others you have to head inside.
"Right now we have walk in clinics, but we do have plans in place for drive through clinics," Schuyler said.
"People will pull in and they'll be rolling down their window. They'll pull down their sleeve. We'll give them the shot with them sitting in their car. Then after we make sure they're fine then, they go to another area where they have to wait for 15 minutes," Stapleton said.
Each county is adapting their plans as more doses roll out so they can distribute the vaccine quickly.
"We are being aggressive to immunize as many people as possible as we can get the vaccines from the New York State Health Department," Dr. Burstein said.
"Our goal is to get vaccines into the arms of our residents," Dr. Watkins said.
To find out more about any of these county's vaccination plans, visit the links below: