MAYVILLE – With the threat of COVID-19 continuing to rise, Chautauqua County’s top health official encourages people to not let their guard down until the vaccine is completely rolled out.
Public Health Director Christine Schuyler tells WNY News Now she is seeing high demand for the new vaccine; however, supply isn’t able to keep up.
“The problem is we don’t have the vaccine to offer it out to the masses. Unfortunately, people are competing to get the vaccination because everybody is important,” says Schuyler. “There is no one group more important than the other. No vaccine is being held back, for any particular group, and we are giving out every dose that we get. Nothing is being saved.”
New York State health guidelines require local providers to use the vaccine within seven days of distribution.
Groups that are currently eligible to receive the shot are finding it hard to book an appointment. Both health care workers and people over the age of 65 alike are feeling frustrated with the process.
Despite what Governor Andrew Cuomo says about scheduling vaccinations months in advance, Chautauqua County leaders are taking a different approach.
“The last thing I’m going to do is schedule people appointments for weeks or months in advance, and then have to go back and cancel it because we don’t get any vaccines shipped to us.” says Schuyler. “The issue is we only have a small amount of vaccine coming in, for the vast amounts of people who are now eligible for the vaccine.”
Schuyler says the best way to find out if you are eligible for the shot, and to find places to get the vaccine, is to visit the “Am I Eligible” page found on New York State’s website.
She encourages residents to prepare before-hand so that the vaccination process go smoothly.
“It’s important for when you come into your appointment time that you bring your identification with you, and most people are also bringing their confirmation on when they scheduled their appointment online, there will be everything social distanced, there will be medical screening too to ensure that you are eligible but also that you don’t have any health issues going on that you should receive the vaccine,” she says.
Once getting the vaccine, residents are required to wait 15-minutes for observation, to monitor any immediate side-effects. Once the waiting period is up, the second dosage will be scheduled.
Local pharmacies and other points of distribution are active around the county, but with high demand, there is low availability. A distribution clinic happening in Mayville on Friday had its 300 vaccination slots booked in just 15 minutes time.
Schulyer encourages anyone who is eligible to make an appointment, even if they have already had the virus to insure longer immunity. She says those not yet eligible shouldn’t let their guard down.
“Even Though some people don’t get very sick or could only get mildly ill, the more people that are exposed, the more people who will get very sick, more hospitalizations and the more people that will die,” says Schulyer. “Go bills, I’m a big buffalo bills fan, but at the same time, I am very nervous about people getting together for football parties and not abiding by any of the requirements and just not being careful.”
Schulyer says the best way to fight COVID-19 is to prevent the spread to begin with, with preventable measures like wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings.