Erie County canceled its Covid-19 vaccination clinics on three days this coming week because it is running out of its supply of the vaccine.
A total of 3,695 people who had appointments to get vaccinated at Erie Community College campuses Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be affected, the county Health Department said. They will be offered future appointments once a supply is secured.
The cancellations were prompted by New York State notifying the county Friday night that its vaccine allocation will be dramatically reduced from the expected amount. The state reduction was prompted by the federal government allocating 50,000 fewer doses of vaccine to the state than it had received in prior weeks.
“Going forward, we have to assume that there will be extremely limited vaccine availability until supply can keep up with demand,” said county Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.
Last week the county Health Department was allocated 7,500 doses from the state for the week. This week, it was allocated 4,200 doses, but was able to obtain a total of 1,300 doses from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospice Buffalo.
For the coming week, the county was advised it will receive only 1,700 doses from the state for the entire week, and the county knows of no other doses it can obtain.
“We’ve been working the phones and it doesn’t sound like anyone has any extra doses in their freezers,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said at an afternoon briefing.
VERY IMPORTANT! PLEASE RETWEET: Due to a dramatic reduction in COVID-19 Vaccine allocation, @ECDOH is cancelling all appointments for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 18-20) of this week. Appointments scheduled for Jan. 21 and thereafter are subject to future cancellation. 1/ pic.twitter.com/vhabXr9Eli— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) January 16, 2021
He said the county expected to vaccinate 1,500 people on Saturday, but would nearly be out of vaccine after that.
At the current rate, Poloncarz said, it will take through June for all currently eligible county residents – health care workers, anyone 65 or older, police, firefighters, public transit workers, people with underlying health conditions and limited groups of others – to get vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the virus is continuing to sicken and kill New Yorkers.
On Friday, 157 state residents died from Covid-19, including 11 in Erie County, two in Niagara County, four in Genesee County and three in Chautauqua County. Across the state, 32,725 New Yorkers have died in the state from the virus since the pandemic began.
Nearly 16,000 people tested positive Friday in New York State. Erie County's seven-day average positive test rate did drop Friday, from 6.9% to 6.6%.
All future appointments at Erie County's point of distribution clinics should be considered tentative, and are subject to vaccine availability, the health department said. First-dose appointments will be canceled if the county does not receive additional doses.
Individuals who have scheduled second-dose appointments at the county clinics are not affected by these cancellations.
“We realize the cancellation of these vaccine appointments will be tremendously disappointing to those who were scheduled to receive their first dose of vaccine at these clinics,” said Poloncarz. “Our entire Covid response team is incredibly frustrated with the federal government’s failure to establish a reliable vaccine supply and their lack of urgency to get vaccine to agencies, such as our Department of Health, that can vaccinate those who currently qualify.”
The county's announcement does not affect scheduled appointments at sites that are not run by the county, including pharmacies, federally qualified health centers, hospitals and sites run by the state.
Since Jan. 4, Erie County has injected 13,201 doses of the Moderna Covid vaccine into eligible persons.