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Why it’s hard to get a booster shot appointment in Northern New York

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:56 PM EST
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PERU, N.Y. (WCAX) - Some gatherings are requiring a booster shot for a seat at the Thanksgiving table this year, but getting one could take a while in New York.

Jacqueline Hallock spent her lunch break at Kinney Drugs in Peru before heading to North Carolina to visit family for Thanksgiving.

“The last thing I would ever want to do is expose my parents or my family to COVID,” Hallock said.

Everyone at their dinner table will share more than blood in common this year.

“I’m the last one in my family to get my booster shot but it also is because I didn’t fit any of the criteria before or I would have had it sooner,” Hallock said.

New York recently opened up booster shots for anyone eligible to receive their first dose, as long as it has been six months for those with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, and two months for anyone with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Hallock said she was lucky to get the last-minute shot.

“It was tricky,” she said. “I had to keep refreshing my computer. Actually, my sister found this appointment for me. So thanks to her, I was able to get one. I could tell this was probably a cancellation and that’s why I was able to sneak in today.”

When trying to schedule an appointment, you can see most booster appointments in New York’s North Country are booked for the next month.

With first and second doses now available for children, doctors say their schedules are filling up and health care staffing challenges aren’t making things any easier.

“It’s due to capacity, it really is. The pharmacies are maxed out, the health departments are maxed out,” said Dr. Wouter Rietsema, an infectious disease specialist at the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital. “At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, the issue was vaccine supply. Now, it’s the supply of people who can actually vaccinate.”

Rietsema recommended continuing to check back for canceled or missed appointments to get in sooner, like what happened with Hallock.

He said the booster shot will protect people from COVID variants like delta and he recommends it to everyone.

“This is really just another way to try and knock this down,” he said. “We are not going to get rid of it, but trying to minimize the risk.”

As for Hallock, she’s thankful her visit this holiday season won’t put her family at risk.

“Anything we can do to stop this disease is a good thing,” she said.

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