BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Friday announced 18 new community-based pop-up vaccination sites will be up and running over the next week.
Three of those sites will be in Western New York:
- Pilgrim Baptist Church, 665 Michigan Avenue in Buffalo, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, though all appointments here are filled;
- Native Pride Travel Plaza, 11359 Southwestern Boulevard in Irving, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday;
- Gowanda Fire Hall, 230 Aldrich Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
"Our main concern is taking care of area residents first," Gowanda Fire Chief Steve Raiport said.
He told 2 On Your Side that registration opened at around noon on Friday, and by that Friday evening, already around 140 people had signed up for appointments for the pop-up clinic at the fire hall.
"This is kind of a targeted event for our area residents, so if you live within the Gowanda area, within the adjoining towns like Collins, Persia, Perrysburg, please do call. We will get you scheduled," Raiport said.
He added, "With everything that's going on, a lot of our area residents have come down with COVID, and we're a close-knit community, so our biggest thing is being part of the solution and taking care of our residents."
Erie County's vaccine distribution data shows Gowanda has the lowest percentage of its population with one dose of the vaccine, at only 3.1 percent, as of March 27.
New York Assemblyman Joseph Giglio has criticized the state's vaccine rollout with regard to rural communities. He told 2 on Your Side this pop-up clinic is welcome news.
"We need protection, and then it will open up things for those folks that are living there. And just the fact that it eases their mind to know that they've gotten a chance and are protected from the virus, at least somewhat to the early doses, it's important to their mental health," said Giglio, a Republican.
The site in Irving, at the Native Pride Travel Plaza, will be administered by Urban Family Practice.
"Going to them in those settings, it's almost a sense of caring that you're going that far, and we're coming through some difficult times with all this COVID, and we want to vaccinate 75 percent of the population. If we don't do these communities, we're not doing the job that we need to do," said Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician with Urban Family Practice.
However, just bringing the clinics there isn't always enough. That's why Dr. Vazquez said he's been taking steps to address vaccine hesitancy.
"I did have an episode with JC and the elders, basically talking about the vaccine itself, because there's a lot of hesitancy not only in the Black, Latino [communities], but also the Native community, and I think those health literacy moments help. ... We should see a lot of the people that were on the fence coming in for the shots," Dr. Vazquez said.
He added, "We're still going to need to wear a mask, and social distance, and hand washing, but there is hope coming through the horizon if we all get vaccinated."
Find more information on the new pop-up vaccination sites here.