Public health director bemoans Orleans vaccine allotment cut in half this week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2021 at 8:31 pm

ALBION – Paul Pettit, the public health director for Orleans and Genesee counties, was expecting more vaccine doses this week for the two counties.

Paul Pettit

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week said the state would be getting 16 percent more vaccine doses from the federal government. Today, he said the amount would be up another 5 percent from the 16.

But for Orleans and many other rural counties in the state, Pettit said the vaccine allotments have been cut. For Orleans County this week, it will only be getting 200 doses, down from 400 a week ago. Genesee is down from 600 last week to 500 this week.

“Vaccines continue to be a great frustration to us,” Pettit said this evening during a conference call with government officials in Orleans County. “I can’t rationally explain this to anyone. It was supposed to be more.”

In the county, 100 doses will go Walgreens in Albion to be given to eligible residents 65 and older. The County Health Department will administer the other 100 doses to essential workers.

Last week in Orleans, the Health Department received 200 doses, while Rosenkrans and Orleans Community Health in Medina both had 100. (The Health Department also distributed a one-time allotment of 100 doses for groups homes in the county, which isn’t included in the 400.)

Next week the eligibility pool will be significantly expanded after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this week people under age 65 with underlying health conditions would be eligible for the vaccine. Pettit said people are going to be frustrated as the demand and eligibility increase for the vaccine, while the supply is so low.

“We urge patience,” he told the local officials. “But don’t be surprised if we get some angst next week as additional people get into the pool but can’t get the vaccine.”

The Health Department and Orleans County Emergency Management Agency will be doing a vaccine clinic for the third time this Thursday at the Ridgeway fire hall. The slots are all filled up. Pettit said the county-run clinic has the capability of administering 700 to 800 doses a day once there is more vaccine doses available locally.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “We will push them out, whatever we get.”