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Lack of supply forces Erie County to cancel vaccine clinics

RADIO.COM logo RADIO.COM 1/16/2021
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - A shortage in COVID vaccine supply is being blamed for a decision by the Erie County Department of Health to cancel upcoming COVID vaccine clinics scheduled this Monday through Wednesday. The cancellation includes scheduled visits at both Erie Community College north and south campuses.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz updated the situation during a media call Saturday afternoon and said the decision to cancel is based on last night's New York State notification informing the county that its vaccine allocation will be dramatically reduced from the expected amount.

I'm very disappointed," said Poloncarz in delivering the cancellation news to the media.

The county health department is dependent on the state for its vaccine supply, and is not able to order COVID vaccine directly from the manufacturer or the federal government. Starting with an initial order of 99,000 doses in early January, Erie County orders of 10,000 each subsequent week have only been partially filled.

Last week Erie County was allocated 7,500 doses by the state for the week. This week, the county was allocated 4,200 doses, and was able to obtain another 1,200 doses from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and 100 doses from Hospice Buffalo. Erie County was advised last night that it will receive 1,700 doses from the state for the entire week, and there does not appear to be any other doses that could transferred from another entity to Erie County.

Erie County Health Department officials say all future appointments at county vaccine clinics should be considered tentative, and are subject to vaccine availability. Upcoming first-dose appointments will be cancelled if ECDOH does not receive additional doses from NYS.

It's important to note that any individuals who have scheduled second-dose appointments at county clinics are not affected by these cancellations.

These cvaccine clinic cancellations will affect 3,695 individuals who have scheduled appointments at county clinics. Emails and a robocall are planned to make individual notifications about the cancellations. Those affected will be offered an appointment at a future clinic site once a vaccine supply is secured.

"Our PODS are prepared to start vaccinating eligible residents as soon as we have a supply," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein.

This announcement does not affect scheduled appointments at non-Erie County sites, including pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, hospitals and NYS sites.

Since opening up its first POD on January 4, Erie County has distributed 13,201 first doses of the Moderna COVID vaccine to eligible persons, including 1,602 doses at two PODs on January 15. The county is currently capable of distributing more than 2,000 doses daily at three clinics, with delivery being solely dependent on receiving sufficient vaccine doses to meet its capability.

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