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Catholic Health to coordinate Phase II vaccines for WNY region

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Posted at 11:24 PM, Dec 16, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Catholic Health will coordinate vaccine distribution in Phase II for Western New York. Phase II is when essential workers and the most at risk general public will be vaccinated.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the vaccination hub coordinators for each of the state's ten regions.

Catholic Health's President & CEO Mark Sullivan said the goal is to quikcly, safely, and equitably vaccinate the five counties (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara) that make up the region

“It’s not about Catholic Health, it’s about a coalition that will be created," Sullivan said.

That coalition will include local leaders and community based organizations. One of the first steps will be creating a healthcare equity task force.

“That will be focusing on making sure we’re listening to the communities of all diverse backgrounds to help determine the vaccination process, and where pods will be established or points of dispensing," Sullivan said.

The task force will also help instill public confidence in the vaccine.

A regional planning team will look at healthcare disparities, and data on where the most vulnerable populations are. That data, paired with community conversations, will help determine where vaccines go.

There will also be an operations team and a logistics team.

Sullivan said a county's vaccination pods could be staffed by people from other counties. He emphasized a regional, not individual county, approach.

“Each county will either have those resources available right now as I’m sitting here, or to Rebecca’s point, to ensure equitable vaccination across the five counties, we will provide those,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said Catholic Health will send a plan to the state at the end of the month. In January, the state will review and finalize every region's plan.

Cuomo said Phase II vaccines will arrive at the end of January if the supply continues as is.