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New York's vaccine supply shortage impacting local vaccinations

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jan 15, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York is facing COVID-19 vaccine distribution problems. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state expected more vaccines from the federal government when eligibility expanded, but that did not happen.

"They had already sent out everything they had, so there was no increase in supply," Cuomo said.

He said the state received less, 250,000 for the upcoming week instead of 300,000.

It's a delay to an already slow process for Western New Yorkers like Edie Monroe. Monroe teaches in person five days a week and was eager to sign up for the vaccine when teachers became eligible.

She's tried to book an appointment all week, but every time she looks none are available.

"It’s like a little kid expecting expecting a Christmas gift and not getting it, very disappointed,” Monroe said.

The state's supply shortage is trickling down to local sites.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center is canceling next week's vaccine clinics due to short supply. The hospital said it will reschedule once the hospital receives new shipments.

Tops pharmacies began vaccinating people 65 and older on Thursday. Public and Media Relations Manager Kathy Sautter said the pharmacies vaccinated more than 300 people.

There are no available appointments currently.

“We’re only able to book appointments for the vaccines that we have," Sautter said.

Sautter said Tops is booked through Saturday, Jan. 16. She said Tops hopes to schedule appointments into early next week, but that all depends on supply.

“So right now we’re not sure when and how many vaccinations we’ll be getting in the coming weeks, we’re only working with the allocations that we have at this point," Sautter said. "We’re kind of at the mercy of the state, it’s kind of a wait and see.”

Sautter said to check this website to see if there are available appointments, and not to call Tops or walk-in to the pharmacy to try and schedule an appointment. Tops is only vaccinating those over 65, and appointments are necessary.

The Erie County Health Department said it will have to cancel its Monday appointments unless it receives more vaccines on Saturday. It will start calling people Sunday if an appointment needs to be canceled.

Cuomo said it will take six months to vaccinate the now 7 million eligible New Yorkers at the current distribution pace.

“I understand that once you get an appointment it will take awhile, but my frustration is I haven’t even been able to get an appointment,” Monroe said.

Click here for more information on checking eligibility and scheduling an appointment.