OLEAN – A local state senator is calling out ‘disproportionate’ COVID-19 vaccine availability in rural parts of New York State.
New York State Senator George Borrello wants Governor Cuomo and state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to establish additional COVID-19 vaccination clinics to serve Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
Borrello is speaking out after more people from Erie County than Allegany County were vaccinated at the state’s temporary mass vaccination site at SUNY JCC’s Olean Campus over the weekend.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Borrello said he believes the needs of rural communities are being ignored by Cuomo’s administration.
“People in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties deserve the same consideration when it comes to getting this life-saving vaccine as their neighbors and fellow New Yorkers in Erie County have,” said Borrello. “Only 15 percent of Allegany County residents have received their first dose of COVID vaccine, one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the state. In Erie County, 20 percent of residents have received at least one dose.”
The Senator says registration for vaccination appointments was a free-for-all because the state did not restrict its Olean vaccination site to residents of rural counties. He says New Yorkers drove all the way from Dutchess and Delaware Counties to receive the shot.
“The Cuomo administration sent only 3,500 doses of COVID vaccine to its Olean mass vaccination site for Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua county residents, but 14,000 doses to the Delavan-Grider mass vaccination site in Buffalo,” said Borrello. “Our three counties have a population close to that of the City of Buffalo. We need more vaccine as soon as possible to help protect our rural residents. The governor needs to stop politicizing the vaccine rollout and address the needs of our rural residents.”
He says rural areas face many challenges like lack of transportation, poor broadband access, aging residents that need assistance, and that, there needs to be done to protect the health and safety of the “underserved areas.”