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Criticism to NY increasing COVID-19 vaccine eligibility while local supply remains stagnant

Starting Wednesday, those who are 60 and up will be eligible. On March 17, essential government employees are among a group of workers who will become eligible.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Within hours, New York State will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include those who are 60 years old and older.

Next week, certain workers will become eligible as well. And there is criticism to that move of expanding eligibility while supply is still limited. 

"Adding [more people who are eligible] with no increase in vaccine, so that doesn't make sense in my mind," said Dan Stapleton, Niagara County's health director. 

Starting Wednesday, those who are 60 and up will be eligible. On March 17, essential government workers such as DPW workers, Department of Motor Vehicle employees and election workers, will become eligible, as well as nonprofit workers and essential building service employees.

"All this does is create more anxiety for residents, more anxiety for people trying to get vaccine because now they're eligible," Stapleton said. 

But Governor Andrew Cuomo sees things differently.

"The supply is increasing, if the supply is increasing, we can then increase our distribution," Cuomo said.

The governor mentioned Tuesday that he is now eligible to get vaccinated and that he plans on making an appointment.

The state's vaccine tracker says vaccine allocation rose to more than 1 million first doses last week from 393,000 the previous week. But, many local health officials tell us that has not translated into increased supply for them. Take for example in Niagara County, where officials say they expected to get 6,500 doses this week.

2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval asked Stapleton, "What led you to believe that the state was going to fulfill the order that you made, the 6,500?"

Stapleton responded, "The state told me they were going to."

Instead the county says it got 800 doses.

Preval asked, "Is there any explanation from the state or whoever you were dealing with as to why that allocation did not come to fruition?"

"Not enough vaccine," Stapleton said. 

Stapleton says he would like to see health care workers vaccinated, before more groups are added. 

Also, starting March 17, anyone eligible to be vaccinated can make an appointment at any provider they choose except pharmacies, which are only supposed to vaccinate 60 and up, teachers and daycare workers.

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