MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County officials are lamenting the lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply while demand remains high in the community.
Those 65 and older now qualify to get the COVID-19 vaccine, this after New York State leaders updated their guidelines to follow new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. According to the CDC, people 65 and older should get the vaccine, as well as those who are immunocompromised.
However, leaders with the county’s COVID-19 Response Team say demand outpaces supply.
“At the local level, we have no say in how much vaccine we get or when we get it,” the group, who is led by Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, said in a joint statement. “We can assure you that as quickly as vaccine arrives, points of dispensing will be announced.”
Local leaders say their goal is to get the vaccine out with “shots in arms” in accordance with New York State guidelines as quickly as possible.
“The Health Department, along with the support of the Office of Emergency Services and the County Medical Directors, has the expertise and experience necessary to implement its mass vaccination plan and administer the COVID-19 vaccine at various identified locations in the County,” they furthered.
So far, more than 3,500 people in the county have received the COVID-19 vaccine, with 162 residents receiving the second dose.
First responders, frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents make up the numbers released by local health leaders on Tuesday that represent 2.7 percent of the total population who received the first dose and 0.12 percent of residents who got the second.
Residents looking to be vaccinated need to register online or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-697-4829. Like all areas across New York State, points of distribution in both Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties are by appointment only.
State leaders are urging local health departments to schedule appointments even before receiving vaccine doses. Eventually, state leaders want pharmacies to administer vaccinations to residents.
After booking a time, residents are asked to bring proof of eligibility in the form of a photo ID, proof of work or other supporting documentation.
Once they verify their registration, residents will receive the shot, waiting 15 minutes afterwards.
The resident will then get an immunization card. They will need to get a second shot 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer’s vaccine and 28 days after the first dose for Moderna’s vaccine.
By opening the vaccinations to those 65 and older, and to people who are immunocompromised, almost another two million New Yorkers who are eligible for the vaccine, bringing the need to vaccinate nearly seven million New Yorkers in the first phase of vaccination.
State leaders project it could take up to six months for those seven million people statewide to be vaccinated.
The vaccine comes as Chautauqua County specifically is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases that others across the state and nation are seeing. With this increased level of community spread, local health leaders say residents must all continue to adhere to disease prevention guidelines, such as social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding gatherings.
The Chautauqua County COVID-19 Response Team is lead by Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, Public Health Director Christine Schuyler, Sheriff Jim Quattrone, Emergency Services Director John Griffith, and County Medical Directors Dr. Robert Berke, Dr. Michael Faulk, and Dr. Brian Walters.