Counties voice frustration over COVID-19 vaccine allocations

WWNY Counties voice frustration over COVID-19 vaccine allocations

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s been days of emails, texts, and phone calls to the state.

“They know exactly where I stand,” said Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray.

Where exactly does Gray stand? He says a majority of vaccine doses for the region are going to Potsdam, feeding the state-run clinic set up there.

That forces residents to drive more than an hour to get a shot.

“I’m not against the state sites,” Gray said. What I’m saying, is that it’s coming at the expense of other operations.”

Gray said if a state site can’t be put in Jefferson County, he wants a way to get residents to state sites in either Syracuse or Potsdam.

“When we were going to have a single location here, I was worried about people driving from Clayton or Alex Bay to come to Watertown. I’m certainly concerned about people driving from here to Potsdam, or here to Syracuse,” Gray said.

The same concern was voiced Tuesday night at the Lewis County Board of Legislators meeting. Leaders there said questions go unanswered, and the vaccine they’ve asked for, they get very little of.

“I think the fact that the state is diverting resources away from local governments in order to prop up their own, what I believe are unnecessary regional sites, are something we should be vocal about,” said Lewis County manager, Ryan Piche.

During a news briefing on Wednesday, 7 News voiced these concerns with Governor Andrew Cuomo. He said vaccine is still a scarce resource, and the state is doing its best to distribute it fairly.

Gareth Rhodes, the New York State Financial Services Deputy Superintendent said more than 5,000 Jefferson County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is 4.2% of the county’s population.

“The issue here is supply. When we have more supply, we can open up more sites, and make sure access is opened up to every corner of the state,” said Rhodes.

Gray agrees with the supply issue, and says more state clinics need to open. He said the supply that is available, should be evenly distributed across the north country.

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