COVID vaccine distribution and appointments at local pharmacies

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LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to point out that shortages of the vaccine are the main reason there is so little availability to schedule a vaccine appointment. Local pharmacies are now in the mix, offering their services to those eligible for a vaccine.

The Lead Coordinator at the Market Bistro in Latham shared how they’re redirecting following state scheduling complications.

Appointments were snatched up in the blink of an eye at all three Market 32 and Price Chopper pharmacies offering the COVID vaccine. “It’s a little tough,” said Clinical Pharmacy Manager Kim DeMagistris, “because everybody wants an appointment right away, and they want to get vaccinated right away.”

She says she’s stressed, but not surprised. Even though all the openings filled up in just two or three days, DeMagistris says there’s still hope for anyone standing by.

“We do expect to receive additional allocations over the next several weeks, and will be ramping up the number of appointments that we have based on that,” she says.

The question now is, how to fill those future slots? DeMagistris says problems with the New York State vaccine hotline caused major confusion this week.

“The appointment scheduler was experiencing some technical difficulties, and it did go down,” she says. “So some patients thought that they had appointments when they were not confirmed.”

She says eligible New Yorkers will only be able to make new appointments through the pharmacy website. Even in a matter of hours Friday, the link to the New York State Department of Health changed from this option selection page to this unavailable message. The DOH website now directs to only use if for appointments at state-run sites.

DeMagistris says, “If you believe that you’ve made an appointment, it doesn’t hurt to give our pharmacy a call just to verify that we have the list of all verified appointments.”

She adds that there’s also a system to make sure not a single dose of the vaccine goes to waste. “The challenge is that once you puncture a vile, it has to be used within six hours. So what we’ve done is, we’ve worked with patients who are interested in getting the vaccine and those that are eligible. We have a list that we can call so that they can come in and be vaccinated,” she says.

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