GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Hundreds of people have now been vaccinated in southern Erie County thanks to a pop-up clinic in Gowanda.
This was a big day for Sharon Sharp.
The Collins resident was one of 300 people to receive the single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at this pop-up vaccination clinic at the Gowanda Fire Department.
With underlying health conditions, Sharp has been eligible for a shot for nearly two months. But she doesn’t know how to work a computer, so getting an appointment has been nearly impossible.
“It’s been hard for old people in the country — very, very hard,” Sharp said.
Her best friend found out about the pop-up at the fire hall here and made a simple phone call to get sharp her highly sought-after dose.
“Today, hopefully I’m a lot safer than I was yesterday and hopefully I can have a little more freedom and get out a little more.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz weighed in on vaccine roll out to rural communities.
“It’s not the equity we would like to see in regards to vaccine doses,” Poloncarz told the media.
Every week, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announces the vaccination percentages for each zip code in the county. Gowanda is consistently on the bottom of the list.
However, this number does not include those who have received their shots at the Seneca healthcare clinic because the numbers are not reported to the state.
But the mayor of Gowanda still believes not enough doses are coming to southern Erie County.
Mayor of Gowanda David Smith, “I said, ‘We need to get more vaccines here.'” David Smith is also the assistant principal of the Gowanda Middle and High School.
He says as much as 30% of the district can’t afford proper-working internet.
And many don’t have cars to drive elsewhere to get their shots.
That’s the case for Cindy and Saniel Dunmore who walked to their appointments at the fire hall.
Daniel has underlying health conditions and tells me if this pop-up didn’t happen, they wouldn’t have gotten a shot.
Mayor Smith says the media helped draw attention to his village and is extremely grateful to the state for offering these shots for his residents.
“They appreciated the ease in registering with a phone call, instead of internet, And they’re also appreciative to be able to come and see people they know, faces they recognize, at a site that’s right in the middle of their hometown. So kudos to everyone who put this site together,” Smith told us.
Kelsey Anderson is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.