State’s rollout of COVID vaccine criticized as ‘new hunger games’

WWNY State’s rollout of COVID vaccine criticized as ‘new hunger games’

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s more pushback on how New York state lets you get the COVID vaccine shot.

State Senator Joe Griffo (R. - 47th District) calls the rollout of the state-run, large clinics like the one in Potsdam - the new hunger games.

He says it has caused people to compete with one another for spots in line, with the most tech-savvy having an advantage.

You can add Senator Griffo’s complaint to a list of those criticizing these state-run clinics.

On Wednesday night, Jefferson and Lewis county leaders said they aren’t getting their fair share of the vaccine because they believe the resources are instead going the state-operated sites.

They’ll tell you they aren’t against these clinics, but Lewis County lawmakers say one size doesn’t fit all.

“The people that need that vaccine, the older people, are not going to be able to drive to Potsdam to get it and they are surely not going to drive through the snow belt to Syracuse to get it,” said Lewis County District 1 Legislator Phil Hathway.

Hathway urges Governor Cuomo to reconsider how the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed. Right now the state sites are getting a large percentage of vaccines to vaccinate people age 65 and older.

Counties are asking why their public health departments aren’t doing the work.

“We can handle our people and we can handle the situation given the opportunity,” said Hathway.

“The fix is quite simple: send us the vaccines and let us get to work,” said Larry Dolhof, chairman of the Lewis County Board of Legislators.

While pharmacies have been backed up for COVID vaccine appointments, the other option for people 65 and older are state-run sites. But if you live in Lewis County, they’re far away.

“Now they have to drive, in the case of Potsdam, 4 hours. Two hours up, two hours back. We could have done this with a 20 minute drive to Lowville, Constableville, Croghan. We had it in place, it was very smooth,” said Dolhof.

“Frankly, I have yet to hear one good reason why the state is doing this. It doesn’t make sense to me for rural north country communities. It doesn’t make any sense,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

Piche says local government can provide better service then the state can.

“We will come to your local fire hall, and oh, by the way, when you call to make your appointment, you’re going to take to someone who knows you and can make sure you get there safely,” he said.

“Make a change, Governor Cuomo, and listen to the people on the ground. In essence, one size doesn’t fit all,” said Hathway.

In Jefferson County, Scott Gray, the legislature board chair, wants the county to manage its own vaccine process.

He has asked the state to consider three options:

give the county its vaccines based on population. Give them the metrics to follow for who gets the vaccine and the county will administer the shots.

have the state set up a site in Jefferson County at Jefferson Community College.

set aside appointments for Jefferson County residents at state-run sites and the county will handle transportation to get people there.

“We know Jefferson County better than they know it and we can manage it better from here than they can from three hours away,” said Gray.

At the governor’s news conference on Wednesday, Gareth Rhodes, with the state, said the issue is supply, and when the state gets more supply, then it can open more sites.

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