Area residents, leaders face uncertainty over COVID vaccine shipments

WWNY Area residents, leaders face uncertainty over COVID vaccine shipments

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Many north country residents are facing uncertainty about when they’ll be able to receive their vaccine. County leaders are facing that same uncertainty themselves as they wait to hear when they’ll receive their next supply.

Some shipments of COVID-19 vaccine doses are coming up short. Others, we don’t know where they are.

That’s what’s making it hard for county leaders to plan.

“It would be great to be able to plan more than a few days ahead, but the way the state is rolling things out, it is really almost hour by hour,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

Lewis County, though, is doing its best to make it work, with three vaccine clinics held throughout this week for groups 1A and 1B, which includes frontline, healthcare, and essential workers.

“By the end of the week, in a three-day span, we’ll have put about 500 shots in the arms of people in Lewis County,” said Piche.

The county is looking to set up points of dispensing, or PODs, in every corner of the county.

But even as of Wednesday, Lewis County doesn’t know if it’ll be receiving more doses to set up another round of PODs next week.

“If we don’t have supply, we don’t have PODs, and that’s what it comes down to,” said Piche.

Jefferson County saw the uncertainty of it all firsthand on Tuesday, when it learned a shipment of 400 to 1,000 doses became 100.

This led the county to cancel two clinics scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week.

“I was on a call on Monday; I was on a state call. I said, ‘We have all of these people without a guarantee of a supply to meet.’ I said, ‘That is a recipe for disaster.’ I said, ‘That will backfire on us,’” said Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray.

So when will the county receive those promised vaccines? Gray says he still doesn’t know.

“I was told on the phone yesterday, we may hear Thursday, possibly Friday,” he said.

As of Friday, the county has vaccinated a third of group 1A. With this hiccup, it could be months before those eligible for 1B get their doses.

But Gray promises we’ll get there.

“This will guaranteed, will smooth out. We’ll be up, we’re going to be running, it’s just taking some time,” he said.

Governor Cuomo has expanded vaccine distribution to places like doctors’ offices and pharmacies. But demand has been high and appointments are being pushed back for weeks.

On Wednesday, Kinney Drugs opened up the vaccine to people 65 and over, meaning more people are getting in line to receive a shot.

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