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Buffalo, NY | Local News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WGRZ.com

County officials seek ways to boost COVID vaccinations amidst some drop-off in demand

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says some employers may require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With the COVID vaccine effort ongoing there is also an issue with the drop in demand for immunization. County officials and health departments are trying to make sure they have the right plans and approaches to get the public to get the shots.

After hitting a 40 percent vaccination rate with first doses, Chautauqua County is one of those areas dealing with that vaccine slowdown if you will.

The drop in demand or hesitancy can be chalked up to a variety of issues from anti-vaccine messages on social media to questions of access. And while they can only put out information to counter the first, officials are striving to address the access element with more of a zip code focus. 

"We also can see where there's a certain area in the 14701 City of Jamestown zip code and we can map out that neighborhood and say that we know that a lot of people who live there have transportation issues, they may not speak English - we now need to target a community clinic in that area," said Chautauqua County Health Director Christine Schuyler. "So that we can try to reach out to that population in particular. A walk-in clinic where people can have easy access to get the vaccine. And these are folks that maybe just have not had the opportunity or the accessibility."

In Erie County a similar drop-off in urban and rural areas and talk of this somewhat controversial approach - approaching employers to get numbers up.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said this in response to a question: "A lot of employers have the ability to mandate their employees to get vaccinated so we're starting to do some vaccination clinics with employers. We know employers are telling their employees you gotta get vaccinated. So some people may say I don't want to get vaccinated. But they think I'm gonna lose my job if I don't get vaccinated. I better get vaccinated. It's not an easy answer and it's something we're working on."

The Federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has issued guidance that an employer can require the vaccine for employees to return to the workplace. But WGRZ has been told by some attorneys that it may prove to be more difficult than it's worth and a legal minefield with numerous exemptions and health issues that may crop up with such an effort in the workplace.