Experts: All those who want vaccine will have it by July

Rochester, N.Y. – The pandemic could look a lot different come summer.
Local medical experts say those who want to be inoculated against COVID-19 likely will be by June.
Barbara Brooks was excited to receive her first shot on Tuesday. But she’s worried about securing an appointment for her 81-year-old mother.
“I can’t get in or when I do get into the number, they tell me I may have to take her to Buffalo or Syracuse or they are always booked,” she said. “I’ve been calling on a day-to-day basis trying to get her scheduled.”
Local health care providers say demand continues to outpace supply, but that it’s getting better.
“It’s been improving,” Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County’s health commissioner, said Tuesday. “From my standpoint, we can’t go fast enough.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a slew of changes to the COVID vaccine eligibility requirements. Starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, those who are 60 and up can book appointments. Until now, vaccines were limited to people ages 65 and up, unless they met certain health or job criteria. More “public-facing” employees will be eligible to book starting March 17, too.
Also starting that day, eligible people can sign up to receive their vaccine at any. The only exception is pharmacies, which the governor says will be concentrating vaccination efforts on those who are 60 and older, as well as teachers.
“The way we are right now is certain sites are limited to a certain demographic and certain types of vaccinators are limited to a certain demographic, and that kind of makes for a lot of confusing pathways for a lot of people,” said Dr. Mendoza. “So, if we can simplify it and make it all comers all eligible…that’s going to make it much more efficient for the public.”
About 20 percent of the region’s population has received vaccinations so far, according to Dr. Nancy Bennett of the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Hub.
“And we believe by the end of June we’ll be able to vaccinate all adults who wish to receive vaccine in our region,” she said.
And that could mean a greater sense of normalcy this summer.
Dr. Mendoza says work will need to happen to continue vaccine education.
“I do want to underscore the early adopters are never the the ones we have to persuade. It’s sort of the masses and late adopters where we’re going to have to put in the effort to educate to answer questions,” he said.
And for those who are still waiting for their shots, Dr. Bennett stresses patience.
“I know we’ve been saying that for a long time and it’s very frustrating, however when we first started talking about patience we were getting maybe 10,000 doses a week,” she said. “Now we’re getting close to 30,000-40,000 doses a week, so we’re going to be moving much more quickly.”

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