UTICA, N.Y. --- On Wednesday Governor Cuomo announced vaccination sites need to prioritize certain groups of eligible people. Cuomo also said certain eligible populations need to get vaccinated in certain locations. County sites need to prioritize essential workers, Hospitals should vaccinate healthcare workers, and Pharmacies and state-run mass vaccination sites should vaccinate those 65 and up.
This change is causing confusion and frustration among county governments and those getting the vaccine. The Governor did not specifically say these sites should turn away people, but both Otsego and Herkimer county sites have had to turn away eligible individuals at county run sites because of this change.
Otsego County said they had to cancel the appointments of a good chunk of eligible people simply because they were supposed to go get their vaccine somewhere else.
"We had that clinic last week with our 100 doses. Roughly 80 percent of those were people 65 and older. And the day before the clinic we were told we're not allowed to give it to 65 and older so we had to cancel all of those appointments and open it up and other people quickly filled that void," said David Bliss.
In Herkimer County, the county vaccination site is prioritizing essential workers but is now also accepting those and 65 and older. Before, the county said those people were turned away and told to make appointments at either pharmacies or state-run vaccination sites.
"We're dealing with it now, it's been hard on our employees at the sites, it's not fun," said Vincent Bono.
On Monday afternoon, the Governor changing what he said on Wednesday. Cuomo said County health departments should now help vaccinate healthcare workers.
"We need the local governments to focus on it. There are over 200 hospitals statewide. I can’t call every hospital and our state department of health can’t call every hospital and work out local issues. But, county governments, mayors – please – you know what hospitals are at what percent. Congratulate the high performers and ask the people who are at a lower level what they need to get their percentage up. Because the variance is too great," said Cuomo.
County sites are closed in Oneida County due to a lack of vaccines. Picente said once the county gets enough vaccines to reopen the sites, the county sites will vaccinate anyone who is eligible while addressing the state's priorities.
"As long as we are within those confines and we are doing the priority population, but we will also do the over 65. And if the Governor wants to penalize me for that, then let him have at it."
Oneida County is expected to receive 500 doses of vaccine this week. Only enough for one day of vaccination.