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Frustration grows as 1B vaccine group expanded again: Seniors struggle to find appointments

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said restaurant workers would be added to Phase 1B of vaccine rollout. Taxi drivers and those employed at facilities with developmentally disabled individuals were also included in the growing 1B list.

He says the decision comes as local governments across the state will be seeing more vaccine. State supplies are expected to increase by about 5% for the next three weeks.

“They are getting more, so theoretically they would have the supply to make those decisions,” Cuomo said during the conference.

Those dosages are going to go to local governments directly, and 10% of the state’s total allocation will be headed to pharmacies. At this point, three-quarters of healthcare workers have been vaccinated, according to state records.

However, the elderly have had continued issues getting vaccinated, or even being able to navigate the vaccine appointment portal. The state has received heavy criticism for its handling of the vaccine rollout to date.

A county official from the Finger Lakes region, who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said they are having a tough time understanding the state’s philosophy on vaccine rollout. “There are so many seniors and underserved people in our communities – the rural ones especially – who are totally left out,” they said late-Wednesday. “The state says they can make an appointment, but that means sitting in front of a computer for hours or days – and even then nothing is guaranteed. How hard is it to create a universal system?”

When pressed, they stated that they envisioned a system similar to what travel websites offer. A place where available doses at all sites across the state can be viewed. Whether it’s a county site, doctor’s office, or pharmacy – putting all of the information into one system would allow people to make appointments and understand what’s really available around them. “Right now you have seniors making hours-long trips thinking they have to, because there isn’t anything else available,” the official added. “That’s not good enough. That’s really disappointing.”