WXXI AM News

Vaccine rollout begins for 1b category with a long waitlist

Jan 11, 2021


First responders, people 75 and older, educators, and grocery store workers can now begin to schedule their coronavirus vaccine appointments.

But the wait to get the shot could be months long. 

Pharmacy intern Lawrence Bean of Rochester, a fourth-year pharmacy school student at St. John Fisher College, prepares doses of vaccine. Health care workers at URMC receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine December 14, 2020.
Credit University of Rochester

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that people in the 1b category are now eligible for the vaccine. According to the state, though, it could take more than three months before anyone eligible could get their first actual shot. 

Dr Robert Mayo, Rochester Regional’s chief medical officer, said the number of vaccines that can be administered will depend on supplies sent by the federal government. However, he said those needing a second shot will not be affected by any delays.

“The overall supply is being managed so that those who need the second dose will be ensured that they’ve gotten it,” Mayo said.

Dr. Bridgette Wiefling with Rochester Regional said the way that medical officials designed vaccine distribution in the area accounted for disparities. 

For instance, she said that some vaccine clinics were designated at certain locations to make them accessible by public transportation. They also took into consideration that not everybody has access to technology.

“Because a technology-only solution would disenfranchise those patients who don’t have the luxury of having cellphone minutes and don’t have access to the internet and wifi,” she said.

To find out if you’re eligible and to schedule an appointment with a nearby provider, New York state has an online pre-screening portal and a new vaccination phone hotline at 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829).

Rochester Regional is offering ten clinics this week to eligible patients through their network. Providers will contact those eligible when a vaccine dose is available to them. Patients will be chosen in a randomized fashion. Patients are encouraged to talk to their primary care physician with any questions.

In a statement, the University of Rochester Medical Center said that subject to vaccine availability, UR Medicine plans to begin scheduling vaccinations for these patients later this week at two clinic locations – one on the Medical Center campus and one downtown.

“We will contact each patient directly via telephone, email, and/or MyChart to schedule their vaccination,” the statement reads. Patients who don’t have a MyChart app account can sign up online.