The number of New Yorkers able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is about to dramatically increase, as those 30 and older became eligible Tuesday and those 16 and older will be eligible starting next week. Luckily for Erie County, it’s about to receive its largest weekly vaccine allocation yet.
The Erie County Department of Health will receive 8,050 COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, while providers and pharmacies throughout the county will receive 27,400 doses, county officials announced at their virtual COVID briefing Tuesday.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said these are the largest batches both the county health department and county providers have received from New York state since the vaccine rollout began in December.
“We've been told more doses would be coming,” Poloncarz said. “New York state increased to 30 and higher for qualification. The President has said he wants all age ranges available very soon and that hopefully by May 1 all individuals who want a dose will have been able to get at least a first dose. So I'm hoping this is the new norm.”
The county health department has typically received about 4,000 to 5,000 doses a week and only as high as about 7,000 does, Poloncarz said. The county health department has administered over 42,000 first doses and over 28,000 second doses over the last three months.
With the 8,000-dose allocation coming this week, Poloncarz said the county has retained more nurses to help administer the shots.
“So you're going to be seeing more staff from Erie County Department of Health administering these vaccine doses at our upcoming clinics,” he said.
There’s been a disparity in vaccine distribution in Erie County so far. Suburbs like Clarence, Orchard Park and Amherst have had over 40% of their residents receive at least a first dose, while urban areas like the East Side of Buffalo and rural areas like the town of Collins are fewer than 20% vaccinated.
The county has plans to address this with pop-up clinics in the next few weeks, said county Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.
“We're partnering with our community partners to identify locations where the community feels comfortable going and get vaccinated, that's convenient for people,” she said. “And so we're hoping we're going to bring all those numbers up, especially in those areas where we're seeing low penetration rates.”
All together, 31% percent of Erie County residents have received at least their first dose, while 17% percent have received a second dose. Those are a few percentage points ahead of the nationwide average calculated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.