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Errors cloud New York State's expanded vaccination rollout on day 1

Under the state's expanded vaccination plan, 4 million additional New Yorkers are eligible to get the vaccine. However, errors led to a lot confusion on Monday.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — On day one of New York State’s rollout, expanding the number of people who can get vaccinated, many jumped at the opportunity and yes, there were some issues in how things went.

Prior to Monday, primarily healthcare workers and nursing homes were eligible to get the vaccine – beginning Monday add on first responders, teachers, transit workers and those who are 75 years old and older.

"Thank you for calling the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination hotline, we’re sorry we’re temporarily unavailable to take your call."

That’s the message New Yorkers got after 4 p.m. Monday, when the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination hotline went live.

On top of this, the state health department Vaccine Eligibility Form incorrectly lists the Erie County Health Department’s main line and Sexual Health Clinic, as a vaccine provider. The county says it’s working with the state to fix this.

In Niagara County, teachers went to the state’s vaccine website too.

"It directed everyone in Niagara County to an Erie County site which with obviously with Erie County teachers visiting that site as well is not something that’s super practical," said Dan Weiss, the president of the Niagara Falls Schools Teachers Union. 

He says more than 100 Niagara Falls teachers, going through the Niagara County Health Department’s website, were able to schedule an appointment as early as Tuesday to get the vaccine.

"For some, it’s welcomed relief for others it may not be something that they want to participate in," Weiss said. "But we’re excited nonetheless that our members are going to have the opportunity to be vaccinated if they wish to and provide them with some additional safety that they didn’t have a couple weeks ago."

The NFTA which has 1,600 employees, most of who are bus drivers, police officers and firefighters, is prepping to get workers vaccinated. The NFTA is surveying its employees to know who is interested in the vaccine.

"We have an actual medical department within the NFTA, as well as, many qualified folks who can actually administer and are qualified to administer vaccinations so we’re in a really good vantage point," said Helen Tederous, director of public affairs of the NFTA.

A vaccination site will be created on the campus of UB South, but we don’t know exactly when and what the hours would be.  

And Wegmans has announced its pharmacies on Alberta Drive and Sheridan Drive will receive a limited number of doses for those 75 years old and up. And despite what a Wegmans press release said to set an appointment online, we didn’t find any way people could actually do that. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo says more pharmacies will come online Wednesday to offer the vaccine. And, that at the current rate of vaccine distribution it will take months to get through Phase 1.

We will continue to stay on top of the roll out of the vaccine to see how things go.

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