With supply short, some taking ‘vaccine road trips’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Department of Public Health says it has received its ‘Week 10’ COVID-19 vaccine allocation, which was delayed last week. With around 670,000 people now eligible in the region for the shot, Dr. Nancy Bennett, the head of the Finger Lakes vaccine hub, says we’ve only administered around 140,000 doses.

News 8 has been told some people are taking road trips to other locations in the state: some to Buffalo and Syracuse, others as far away as Potsdam. Dr. Bennett says much of this goes back to the on-going discussion on supply here and across the country. 

“Yes, we’ve heard these tales of people going well out of their way outside our region to seek vaccination,” says Dr. Bennett.

Bennett says in the near future, we’re going to see more vaccine stock coming in. And don’t forget she says, if you do travel to somewhere like Potsdam, you have to go BACK for that second shot. 

“And so if people can just be patient, they will be able to get vaccinated,” says Bennett.

Dr. Bennett says it all comes down to supply. If we had enough here, we could get the job done relatively quickly. “We could be done vaccinating everyone in our region in just a few months if we had enough vaccine,” she says.

Dr. Bennett says enthusiasm for the vaccine is high, a sign that trust has grown. “The initial vaccine was developed as ‘Operation Warp Speed’, which I think that made people very uncomfortable.”

But she says, no shortcuts were taken in developing this remedy. She says mostly administrative barriers were removed to expedite the process. 

“These vaccines are very safe. They’re extraordinarily effective,” she says,

President Joe Biden did recently say we will be approaching ‘normalcy’ by the end of this year, with Christmas looking a lot better than last. Bennett did say she hopes by fall we will be back to some kind of regular life, but again— if we have the stock.

“We’re just completely dependent on that in when we can predict on going back to normal,” she says

Dr. Bennett did add that the new location in the region, the FEMA Hawkeye site for vaccinations opening in March, will be able to give an additional 7,000 doses per week.

Dr. Bennett did also touch on those other COVID-19 variants and did say as far as she can tell, the vaccines are effective against those, though the Johnson & Johnson is slightly less effective. Either way, she says, we’re in good shape at the moment when it comes to efficacy. 

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