Some New Yorkers are driving hours to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a result of they’re unable to search out appointments nearer to residence via a state web site.
Residents of the Albany and Buffalo areas specifically have complained on social media and to their native lawmakers that they’ve needed to resort to signing up for appointments in Utica, Rochester, Binghamton or Syracuse.
Jessica Muenter, 48, mentioned she lives a brief drive away from the SUNY Buffalo website, however as an alternative resorted to reserving an appointment in Rochester, which is over an hour away. She was one in every of a number of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with eligible well being circumstances that depart them significantly susceptible to COVID-19 who may begin signing up for vaccines Sunday.
“I’m willing to drive like 3 hours to get it but it’s kind of annoying when the location here in Buffalo is literally 5 minutes from my house,” she mentioned. “But it’s worth it to get it.”
Muenter and different newly eligible people have grown annoyed in current days with the state’s Am I Eligible sign-up portal for state-run mass vaccination websites, which has continued to greet them with messages saying “No Appointments Available” at SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo. Meanwhile, appointments have been at instances accessible at websites from Javits Center in New York City to Plattsburgh International Airport.
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The purpose for the obvious lack of appointments in Albany and Buffalo on the state’s web site was not instantly clear, together with whether or not an internet site glitch was responsible.
Health division spokesperson Jill Montag mentioned over 250,000 new appointments had been booked in simply 24 hours. She did not present The Associated Press with information on whether or not any individuals had been in a position to ebook appointments on-line at Buffalo or Albany.
“We will continue to release more appointments statewide as supply allows,” she mentioned.
Assembly member John McDonald, a Democrat from Cohoes, and Assembly member Pat Fahy, a Democrat of Albany, every mentioned it’s doable Albany and Buffalo merely have greater demand than websites together with Utica.
“People in Potsdam and Utica are now getting blocked out from people in the Capitol Region,” McDonald mentioned. “But that’s been a weakness in the system from day one.”
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Still, the push this week alone may imply residents in Utica and different less-populated communities will face even steeper challenges in coming weeks when attempting to get an appointment at a neighborhood state-run website that may inoculate anybody who’s eligible.
Both lawmakers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to launch a statewide pre-registration system at a time when over half the grownup inhabitants is now competing for vaccines on an overwhelmed on-line portal.
Patti Gibbons, 56, of Albany, has a number of sclerosis and mentioned she will be able to’t drive tons of of miles away for an appointment. She mentioned she’s been refreshing tabs for days looking for an appointment.
“I’ve been sitting here hitting refresh periodically and no joy, no good,” Gibbons, who takes a medicine that suppresses her immune system, mentioned. “I know that the governor says supply is the issue. But also there’s this bottleneck. If you can only look for appointments with the state and the state’s sites are so far apart and so overwhelmed, there’s got to be a better way, especially for people with pre-existing conditions.”
Hundreds of senior residents lined as much as obtain their COVID vaccines solely to search out out their appointments had been scheduled by computer error. News 4’s Gus Rosendale studies.
State Sen. Ed Rath, a Republican of Buffalo, mentioned he discovered it unbelievable that appointments weren’t extra broadly accessible within the Buffalo space. He known as for transparency about the place the state is sending vaccine doses, and higher communication between the state well being company, counties and the general public.
“What if they have some type of reaction while they’re in Binghamton or driving home, or if it’s a resident in our community who has no access to transportation?” he mentioned.
Cuomo has promised provide will go up now that New York is about to obtain 20% extra in provide over the subsequent three weeks. That may quantity to no less than 60,000 extra doses every week, primarily based on the state’s information displaying one other 317,000 doses set to reach in New York final week.
He additionally mentioned he’d unencumber extra doses for individuals with comorbidities by transferring doses meant for unwilling hospital staff to native well being departments. At least one county, Erie County, has determined to have hospitals vaccinate people with comorbidities as an alternative.