Mar. 3—Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton said Wednesday that Niagara County is expecting to receive 6,500 first doses of COVID-19 vaccination next week, by far the most the county has ever received for a single week. The county is expecting 5,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines and 1,500 Moderna that must be dispensed next week.
A release on the shipment notes the doses would nearly double the total amount of vaccine doses Niagara County has received to date.
"As with everything regarding COVID-19, the situation can change in a minute and that happened last night when I was notified by New York state that we would be getting this huge shipment of vaccine, which is great news for our community," Stapleton said.
Stapleton stressed that vaccine appointments will not be available until the vaccine is actually received by the county Health Department.
"We are not yet accepting appointments because our policy has consistently been not to schedule until we have the vaccine in hand to avoid having to cancel appointments if it does not arrive," said Stapleton. "As soon as we confirm receipt, we will make an announcement that appointments are available. Residents can then go to niagaracounty.com, click on the blue box for vaccination info and then scroll down to step 1 to schedule."
With such a large volume of vaccines coming, the health department will not be moving its Point of Dispensing (POD) vaccination clinic from the Kenan Arena in Lockport to Gratwick Fire Hose Company #6 in North Tonawanda next week as had been planned.
Stapleton explained that the available space at Gratwick in concert with the need to maintain a socially distanced operation inside, limits the maximum daily throughput to 850 vaccinations per day. The venue at the Kenan Arena has sufficient space for the health department to safely accomplish up to 2,500 vaccinations per day.
"High volume point of dispensing operations require significant staffing and support from our staff, volunteers and partners," said Stapleton. "Therefore, we are prioritizing our efforts on one high volume POD at a time to ensure the largest number of individuals are vaccinated in the shortest period of time."
In addition, all participants with a second dose currently scheduled at Gratwick should have received an email from the county Health Department notifying them that they will now receive their second dose at the Kenan Arena on the same date and time as originally scheduled at Gratwick.
As for appointments, Stapleton said Friday, they had 158 vaccine appointments available for this week that were booked in six minutes.
"Hopefully, people who have been frustrated trying to get an appointment will find better success," said Stapleton. "A shipment of this size is the first step to really building critical mass toward herd immunity, but we don't know if this is just a one week occurrence or whether we can begin to expect significant shipments like this each week going forward."