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Erie County DOH cancels upcoming COVID-19 vaccine PODS

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Sat, Jan 16th 2021 03:00 pm

All vaccine appointments for Jan. 18-20 are canceled due to lack of supply

On Saturday, the Erie County Department of Health announced the cancellation of all scheduled ECDOH coronavirus vaccination point-of-distribution clinics (PODs) for next Monday through Wednesday, Jan. 18-20. This includes locations at Erie Community College South and Erie Community College North.

These cancellations are based on Friday night’s state notification informing ECDOH that its vaccine allocation will be dramatically reduced from the expected amount. ECDOH is dependent on New York for its vaccine supply, and is not able to order COVID-19 vaccine directly from the manufacturer or the federal government.

Starting with an initial order of 99,000 doses in early January, ECDOH’s orders of 10,000 each subsequent week have only been partially filled.

For example: Last week, ECDOH was allocated 7,500 doses by the state for its PODs for the week. This week, ECDOH was allocated 4,200 doses by New York. It was able to obtain another 1,200 doses from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and 100 doses from Hospice Buffalo. Unfortunately, ECDOH was advised it will only receive 1,700 doses from the state for the entire week, and there does not appear to be any other doses that could transferred from another entity to ECDOH.

A press release said, “All future appointments at ECDOH PODs should be considered tentative, and are subject to vaccine availability. Upcoming first-dose appointments will be canceled if ECDOH does not receive additional doses from NYS. Individuals who have scheduled second-dose appointments at ECDOH PODs are not affected by these cancellations.

As reported by the Washington Post on Friday, ECDOH said, “The federal government’s vaccine reserve has been depleted, and vaccine doses promised to states are simply not available.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “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. 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 get vaccinate those who currently qualify.”

The Jan. 18-20 cancellations will affect 3,695 individuals who have scheduled appointments at ECDOH PODs. Emails and a robocall are planned to make individual notifications about the cancellations. Those affected will be offered an appointment at a future POD site once a vaccine supply is secured.

Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said, “Our PODS are prepared to start vaccinating eligible residents as soon as we have a supply. We have been planning for this and have our sites, staff and scheduling process in place; the only limiting factor at this point is the vaccine. Going forward, we have to assume that there will be extremely limited vaccine availability until supply can keep up with demand.”

This announcement does not affect scheduled appointments at non-ECDOH sites, including pharmacies, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), hospitals and state sites. Those who are eligible are strongly encouraged to keep those appointments, and schedule at other locations if there are openings.

Since opening up its first POD on Jan. 4, ECDOH has distributed 13,201 first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to eligible persons, including 1,602 doses at two PODs on Jan. 15. ECDOH is currently capable of distributing more than 2,000 doses daily at three PODs, with delivery being solely dependent on receiving sufficient vaccine doses to meet its capability.

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