LITTLE VALLEY — About 5,000 Cattaraugus County residents have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the county’s public health director said Wednesday.
Dr. Kevin D. Watkins told the Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Human Services Committee the county continues to receive a limited supply of vaccine — even as the list of eligible groups grows.
Severe winter weather in Texas delayed a supply of vaccine bound for New York state, forcing the health department to cancel 300 appointments for vaccine shots today at the Seneca Allegany Events Center in Salamanca.
Watkins told the committee members those appointments would be rescheduled for next Thursday at the same times.
“We’re hoping things (in Texas) clear up by Sunday,” Watkins said. “Next week we’re expecting double the doses of vaccine.”
There will be two clinics next week at the Seneca Allegany Events Center.
Watkins said the health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center currently has almost 3,000 people on waiting lists for appointments to get the vaccine.
As the health department becomes aware of new supplies of vaccines, people on the waiting list are alerted by call center staff.
“Cattaraugus County seems to get a very small allotment” compared to other counties, Watkins said. “We tell people to be patient. More (vaccine) providers are coming on board” and Pfizer and Moderna are increasing production.
Legislator Richard Helmich, R-Delevan, noted that a lot of people in his district don’t know how to register for the vaccine.
Watkins said there would be additional clinics at the Delevan Fire Department Training Center as well as the other three Health Department PODs (points of distribution) — Jamestown Community College in Olean, the county fairgrounds in Little Valley and the Salamanca site.
Watkins said many of those vaccinated at the Delevan site last week were on the waiting list, not just from the Delevan community. A portion of the vaccine was set aside for teachers, essential workers and those over age 65. Those same people will come back in three weeks to get their second shot.
The county health department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center can be reached at (716) 701-3777. People should ask to get on the waiting list.
Watkins said the county health department wasn’t always aware of how much vaccine is available in a given week. Supplies of vaccine are shipped directly to pharmacies and the federal government shares that information with the county. The CVS and Walgreens chains vaccinated residents and staff at nursing homes.
Kelly Reed, the deputy county administrator and nursing homes administrator, told legislators about 86% of residents at the Olean and Machias nursing homes received the vaccine. Some didn’t want it, she said.
One legislator said his pharmacy called him and told him to come to the pharmacy the next day at a certain time to get his first shot.
“They said I was pre-registered,” said Donald Benson, R-Allegany. “I didn’t ask to be at the head of the line.” He got the shot.
Legislator Norman Marsh, R-Little Valley, said some people are driving 100-150 miles to get the vaccine after registering on the state Department of Health website. Some county residents have secured appointments at state sites in Rochester and near Binghamton.
Watkins said if people call the county’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center to get put on the waiting list, they can ask for a specific POD site if they wish.
“I hope to use our mobile unit when enough vaccine is available” to be able to vaccinate people who can’t come to a POD Watkins said. The current PODs are close to population centers, he added.