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New York faces appointment glitches during vaccination rollout

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 7:21 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York rolled out state-run vaccination sites this week one will open in Plattsburgh next week. Kelly O’Brien explains what you need to know.

The site is located at 213 Connecticut Road in Plattsburgh. It’s next to the airport and it’s where the county used to hold its drive-thru testing. Starting Monday, the site will open back up and offer drive-thru vaccinations to those who are eligible. The state says it anticipates doing 1,000 vaccinations a day and they will be by appointment only.

But some people say getting an appointment is the hardest part of the process. Heather Bird of Plattsburgh has been trying to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine since Sunday. “It’s quite the ordeal, I thought it would be easier,” she said.

The home aide said her work isn’t requiring she get the vaccine and she hadn’t planned to get it right away, but feels with her job working with clients in their 80s, it’s the right thing to do. “I wasn’t even going to do it,” she said, “but then I was like ok maybe I will and now it doesn’t even matter.”

All vaccine appointments need to be made through the state’s website. You need to enter your personal information and then a series of questions will prompt you to make sure you are eligible. The questions include: do you work in health care? Are you a first responder? Do you work at a school?

Bird isn’t alone facing struggles online to get the vaccine. Erin Streiff with Franklin County Public Health says it’s to be expected. “Just the volume of a lot of people going to a website all at once, that’s not uncommon to see that kind of thing,” she said.

The state-run site in Plattsburgh will handle the vaccinations for Essex and Franklin Counties as well. County health officials are encouraging the state to expand into more counties. “We are concerned about accessibility,” said Streiff. “We anticipate that as more vaccine becomes available there will be the ability to provide vaccinations between county borders.”

While some people are skeptical of getting the vaccine, Streiff says she has mostly seen people who want it. “My guess is that the amount of vaccine available is going to be the biggest challenge to get people vaccinated,” she said. She and other public health professionals are asking that those who are able to get the vaccine to remain patient. “Really, the only way to get over the pandemic is for everyone who can get the vaccine to get the vaccine.”

Bird said no matter how long it takes, she plans to sign up for an appointment. The State Health Department is the one running the site in Plattsburgh next week. Hudson Headwaters also is giving doses to those who are eligible and local chain pharmacies are able to vaccinate anyone 65 and up.

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