Frustrations continue to grow over vaccine rollout in NYS

Coronavirus

ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Frustrations continue to grow over the state’s vaccine rollout with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle saying there are major issues on multiple levels and that their offices have been flooded with calls from constituents.

In a statement, Republican Senator Phil Boyle said Thursday:

“Governor Cuomo’s vaccine rollout can only be described as utter chaos. Millions of New Yorkers have no idea when or where they can receive their life-saving shots, and they feel totally abandoned by their state government.”

The state’s website has a banner alert explaining that the federal government has only given the state about 300,000 vaccines per week for the seven million New Yorkers who are now eligible and that as a result “supply is very limited.”

It also said that “vaccines are also available at pharmacies, hospitals and through local health departments statewide-please contact your provider of choice to schedule your vaccine appointment.”

But Stephen Acquario with the New York State Association of Counties said that language is overwhelming local health department offices with calls, and they presently have few, if any, doses to give to the general public that is eligible. 

On Wednesday, Assemblymember Pat Fahy said she has had constituents on the phone for hours trying to get an appointment for a vaccine and that she hears some are booking into April.

“We need more vaccines, but the whole infrastructure that has been set up and we’ve had weeks to do this…the website is not user friendly, nor is it accessible, and the phones are not being answered. Serious logistical problems. It’s a big disappointment, but I’m willing to work with anybody as we’ve got to sort this out,” Fahy said.

Acquario said that while the goal is to have the infrastructure prepared for when New York does receive more doses, in the interim it will take patience. 

“It’s don’t give up in the interim. We have to encourage all those that are currently eligible to register with the State of New York and the ‘Am I Eligible?’ portal. You need to do that; you need to take that first step by registering and then begin to look and see if an appointment is available,” he said.

Out of the state’s vaccine sites for those eligible, the Javits Center and the State Fairgrounds show available appointments. NEWS10 ABC reached out to the state Department of Health to see how many workers are on the vaccine hotline, and if they have any other advice to share for those who can’t get through. 

They did not say how many people are working on the line, but responded with the following statement:

“We’ve had a tremendous response both on our website and to our call center, which is good news. New Yorkers are showing they trust the vaccine and want to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The challenge is we can only vaccinate as fast as the federal supply allows. We ask for patience as we implement the largest single vaccination effort in state history. In the meantime, keep wearing your mask, be smart, be safe and be ready when a vaccine is available for you.”

An aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the vaccine hotline is still in use and that they are adding more staff.

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