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Limited Supplies

County asks for patience as COVID vaccines sought

Seniors wait to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in New York City. Locally, county health officials said those looking to get a shot will have to go through the state to get an appointment. AP photos

Are you a Chautauqua County teacher, police officer or grocery store employee looking to get vaccinated from COVID-19? Although you are eligible, you have to go online then call the state to get an appointment.

On the county Health Department’s website it states in big bold red letters “The Chautauqua County Department of Health is NOT making vaccination appointments over the phone at this time. Please do not call or email our office for vaccine scheduling. These calls are interfering with the ability to perform our work.”

Instead, the county asks local residents to visit https://chqgov.com/public-health/covid-19-vaccination-clinics. Afterward, eligible residents need to call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829) to schedule an appointment. The county noted that it has no ability to assist with issues online or with the state’s hotline.

“The scheduling of public vaccination clinics in Chautauqua County is dependent on vaccine allocated by New York state. The ability to plan these clinics in advance is very limited,” the county said in a news release.

Brooks-TLC Hospital System sent out a news release Wednesday, inviting eligible community members to register online (https://apps.health.ny.gov/doh2/applinks/cdmspr/2/counties?OpID=50500026), however, the website did not list any openings that afternoon and there was no place to insert one’s name.

Brooks in Dunkirk is one of the designated vaccine sites in the county.

“Please be advised, vaccine supplies are limited. Those interested in receiving the vaccine should regularly check the registration link above for updated openings and newly scheduled clinics,” they said in their news release.

Statewide, the vaccine rollout has been quite slow, according to the Associated Press. Some vaccine appointments made this week were for February or March. One Long Island resident said she looked out as far as June for an appointment, but was unable to schedule one.

The confusion continued Wednesday in a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which noted that the state only receives 300,000 doses per week from the federal government. “Due to the federal government’s limited allocation, appointments have filled up quickly. Please call your local health department, pharmacy, doctor or hospital for additional information and to schedule appointments.”

Denis Nash, public health professor and executive director of the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health told the Associated Press that New York lost precious days by initially restricting vaccine distribution to hospitals rather than county health departments which are long trained in mass vaccinations.

“The pace in which this pandemic is advancing in the population, every single day matters,” he said. “Achieving the goals of coverage a week earlier or a week later than scheduled is a lot of lives lost.”

Christine Schuyler, county public health director and commissioner of Social Services, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, although she has voiced similar complaints about the state and its vaccine rollout plan, saying they weren’t utilizing county health departments more effectively.

LOCAL DEATHS FROM COVID CONTINUE

The Chautauqua County Department of Health reported another COVID-related death on Wednesday, marking 46 to date during the pandemic and six in the last week.

The county also recorded 67 new COVID cases, of which 21 involve people living in the Dunkirk zip code, six in Fredonia, 12 in Jamestown and five each in Silver Creek and Falconer. Several municipalities also had between one and three new cases, according to information collected for Tuesday and released Wednesday by health officials.There have been 5,198 confirmed cases of the virus in the county, with 695 currently considered active. In addition, 42 people with the virus were in the hospital, unchanged from information released Tuesday, as well as 2,317 people in quarantine.

As of Wednesday, 3,622 residents in Chautauqua County had received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, a bump of 122 from Tuesday. The number of people who had received their second dose reached 340, an increase of 178.

Meanwhile, the Cattaraugus County Department of Health reported three additional COVID-related deaths. They involve an 84-year-old woman, 97-year-old man and 40-year-old woman.To date, 64 Cattaraugus County residents have died due to COVID-19 complications.

“We extend our deepest condolences to their family and the entire Cattaraugus County community,” the county Health Department said.

There have been 3,128 confirmed cases of the virus in Cattaraugus County, with 489 cases considered active. There also have been 2,578 recoveries and 43 people with the virus in the hospital.

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