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COVID-19 vaccine supply low in Erie County; Roswell Park transfers doses to assist the county

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also gave an update Tuesday regarding the county's Orange Zone status.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County officials held a press conference Tuesday that primarily focused on the vaccine rollout and the lack of supply.

Appointments are now scheduled in Erie County through January 30. They'll be given out at three locations, and you'll find out where you need to go when you make your appointment. You can't just show up demanding the vaccine. You need an appointment.  

People in Phase 1A aren't done yet getting their vaccines, and now we are in 1B and Erie County gets most of its vaccines from the New York State Department of Health. Right now, supplies are very limited. In fact, county officials said during the press conference that some appointments might have to be cancelled because there are only enough vaccines here in Erie County for the appointments for the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday.

"This is a supply issue," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "It's not a logistics issue from Erie County. We have three point of distribution locations identified. We have some other ones that would be larger, much larger, as we get into the general public scheme of it later in the summer. It is not an issue with regards to our ability to ramp up. We have them identified. We have the staff identified. We are ready to increase our vaccine distribution capability, we just need the vaccines to do it."

A few hours later Poloncarz tweeted that Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is transferring doses to the county to fulfil those appointments. According to Poloncarz, the Erie County Department of Health has received 1,200 doses from Roswell Park as well as 4,200 doses from the New York State Department of Health.

Poloncarz says these are enough doses to get the county through all appointments scheduled at the county's point of distribution clinics for the remainder of this week.

If you are in Phase 1A or 1B, there is a form you have to fill out online to get an appointment.

According to the county, 18,500 calls came in to Erie County Monday asking for vaccine appointments. 1B appointments are now full through January 30. If you are in Phase 1A, there are going to be appointments added.

Even though Erie County doesn't have enough vaccine doses here yet, the state told counties to schedule these appointments.

"And my response to them was, ok, we can do that, but you are on the gun to deliver the vaccine to us because if we do not get the vaccine, we are going to have to call those people and cancel it," Poloncarz said.

Erie County's hospitalizations ticked back up above 500 Tuesday after almost a week of drops.

And there's no sign yet when we might get out of the Orange Zone that's keeping tighter restrictions on Erie County than a lot of other parts of the state.

Tuesday, we found out the county executive talked with Governor Andrew Cuomo this weekend about the Orange Zone. He is hopeful there will be a change soon. That change could be going back to a Yellow Zone for a big part of Erie County.

While no decision has been made yet, Poloncarz says every county should be treated the same way, which he says means a lot of other places would be Orange now, too.

"I do not believe it's fair for the entire portion that's in the Orange Zone to stay in the Orange Zone when we have numbers that are better than other parts of New York State," Poloncarz said. "I have told the governor that. He gave me his word that they were looking at it. I hope they move our community to the Yellow. I will note this, if Erie County should stay in the Orange, then almost all of Upstate New York should be in the Orange."