WNYers travel to Rochester for vaccinations, as local clinics are canceled

Jan 21, 2021

People are apparently traveling long distances to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told his briefing Wednesday that some have gone from Buffalo to Rochester.

"Who literally will shop sites all over," Cuomo said. "I know we have people who go to state sites that are two hours away to get a vaccine. I know we have a lot of people in the Buffalo area who go to Rochester to get vaccines."

Hundreds of people lined up Wednesday at the opening of the Dome Arena in Henrietta, outside Rochester, one of the state-run sites where COVID-19 vaccinations are being given.

Marianne Gustafson was among those waiting to get her shot. When it was done, she said she was very glad she had signed up.

“It was great, everything went smoothly," Gustafson said. "I had absolutely no trouble, they’re very organized, lots and lots of volunteers, and I’m thrilled to be here on day 1 getting my vaccination for the first time.”  

Gustafson said, like many people, that she hasn’t been able to see much of her children or grandchildren, or do much traveling. With the vaccine, she hopes that can change.

Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

"I’m hoping that not only me, but everybody else starts to be safe and we’d be able to get people back to work, be able to go travel," she added. "I retired June 30 and I had to cancel all my plans so we’re looking forward to doing to doing some cruising, traveling, and seeing friends and family out of town."

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa approved "shopping sites," as long as travelers meet the current requirements, which include a wide array of first responders and health care workers and those over age 65.

"They are regional hubs that are strategically in places where we know there are population centers," she said. "But people can travel around the state and reach any of them and we do track. In addition to where we’re allocating the vaccinations, we’re tracking who is consuming the vaccinations to make sure that, county by county, there’s parity and equity. And we haven’t seen any significant issues at this point."

Of course, all of that travel could be for naught, since there is an extreme shortage of the vaccine. DeRosa said state vaccination sites have been set up in such a way that if more vaccine shows up from the federal government, the number of people vaccinated can be rapidly increased.

"We're very optimistic under the new administration, and as (President Biden) has promised, 100 million doses in the first 100 days," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who attended the opening of the Dome Arena site. "New York state will be there with our hands out, waiting for our share."