BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — A mass vaccination site opened in Johnson City on Tuesday. The state-run operation is the only one of its kind in the Southern Tier.
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the site is a turning point in the pandemic, but the ongoing shortage of vaccine doses means the battle is far from over.
“The only thing that’s missing is the supply we need,” Hochul said. “It’s like fighting a battle and knowing that your weapon can help destroy the enemy but you’re short on the weapons.”
It’s why some scheduled vaccine appointments have since been canceled, Hochul said. While the infrastructure to vaccinate people is ready to go, the doses themselves are not.
The Democrat said she is hopeful that once President-Elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday, his administration will use all of its resources to ramp up vaccine production.
After they do, Hochul said she expects vaccines will be available widely at pharmacies, which will be instrumental in vaccinating New Yorkers 65 and older.
The state-run vaccination site in Johnson City is one of 20 large-scale facilities opening across the state this month, according to Hochul. Other locations include Syracuse, Rochester and Utica.
Still, even if supplemented by pharmacies and hospitals, these sites won’t reach every New Yorker, especially in more rural areas and communities facing economic hardship.
“You live further out or in some of these more urbanized areas—the lower-income areas,” Hochul said, “You just look at it…you drive through, you look a long time and you’re not going to see a grocery store or a pharmacy, or, many times, a healthcare facility.”
The Democrat said members of the state’s Vaccine Equity Task Force are working to identify those communities and implement pop-up vaccination sites in places like churches and senior centers, with recommendations from a similar task force through the UHS Regional Hub for vaccine distribution in the Southern Tier.
Appointments for the state’s vaccination site can be made online through the New York State Department of Health. Residents can also schedule appointments via phone at 1-833-697-4829.