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COVID-19 vaccine disparity: WNY has 3rd-lowest allocation per capita In New York

2 On Your Side has been investigating the amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses Western New York and other regions have been getting on a per capita basis.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — At the KeyBank Center on Wednesday, seniors who have literally waited months to be vaccinated no longer had to wait in line.

"For many of these individuals, they've been on a wait list since late December early January," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. 

Many local health officials remain frustrated that they have many people who want to be vaccinated, but only a small allocation of vaccine to use.

"Our goal is to get our residents vaccinated and protected against COVID, and if we can't get the vaccine we need, then we're not meeting the needs of our residents, and that's frustrating for us and for them," said Dan Stapleton, Niagara County's public health director, said.

2 On Your Side has been investigating the amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses Western New York and other regions have been getting on a per capita basis, to learn more about whether the distribution has been fair.

There is a disparity across the state.

According to numbers from the state's vaccine tracker and county population, as of the beginning of this week, we found Western New York is the third-lowest region in the state in receiving doses of vaccine on a per capita basis.

"The problem is there's more people eligible than doses available, so eligibility does not mean availability to get a vaccine today," Poloncarz said.

For the past two weeks, we've questioned the state on this disparity.

Statements from both the state health department and the Governor's Office say regional allocations are made, in part, based on eligible population and that temporary vaccine sites, such as pop-up clinics, are being used where vaccine access is low and vaccination rates are below average.

The state says more vaccine providers will be added, as the federal government increases supply.

Earlier this week, the state announced plans to set up a mass vaccination site at the Niagara Falls Conference and Event Center.

The state has not released details yet on when people who are eligible can make appointments.

As for vaccinations at the KeyBank Center, Wednesday was the first day of vaccinations. The county did about 600 vaccinations on the first day, with the goal of doing more than 1,000 per day. People who are eligible need to have an appointment.