ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)– Thousands of Erie County residents set to get their first round of the COVID-19 vaccines will have to wait. The county canceled its vaccination clinics this upcoming week because of low supply.
News 4 spoke with two essential employees that say they were on the phone for about an hour and a half just to schedule their appointment the first time, so they are not happy they might have to go through all that again.
“I mean I’m ready to get back to normalcy, I mean even if it’s a new normal so it’s just extremely disappointing really.” said Medical Assistant Brittany Kasza.
Akron Elementary School Teacher Karen Stachowiak said “I understand that glitches are going to happen but please do the right thing and don’t put us at the back of the line we had an appointment.”
Karen Stachowiak is one of the 3,500 people in Erie County who were told their vaccine appointments are canceled.
“Needless to say I wanted to cry just because I never thought I’d be so excited to get a vaccination as I was for this one,” said Stachowiak.
She teaches first graders at Akron Elementary and was looking forward to getting the vaccine because of her job and because she cares for her parents.
Stachowiak tells us, “I don’t want to get it but I also don’t want to give it to anyone else. I would feel horrible if I spread it unknowingly to someone else.”
Medical Assistant Brittany Kasza has similar reasons.
“A lot of my patients are high risk. They’ve come out of surgery, diabetic hypertension, all things that come into play with this COVID in general, I also have a mother-in-law who’s high risk and we have a baby at home,” said Kasza.
Due to a dramatic cut in the amount of vaccines the county will receive, all appointments Monday through Wednesday at the Department of Health’s distribution clinics are canceled.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “This is my understanding, a supply issue. I think everyone across the state is being treated the same, just like everyone across the county. It’s very disappointing and once we get more supply we can vaccinate more people but it’s out of our hands.”
Infectious disease expert Dr. Thomas Russo says he understands the frustrations but says this is encouraging because more people want to be vaccinated. Now it’s a matter of the supply meeting the demand.
Dr. Russo says, “a trivial setback of a few days based on supply which reflects the fact that one people are interested in getting vaccinated, we’ve also expanded the individuals that are eligible and we now have the processes in place to be able to make the appointments and vaccinate them.”
Cattaraugus County released a statement this weekend saying they are not booking appointments for the vaccine at this time.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he expects more clinics will run into this same issue.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.