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Friday, April 16, 2021

Smaller, Convenient Clinics Coming:
Western New York public health directors urge residents in rural communities to get vaccinated

What began in many communities as a race to get COVID vaccine appointments has now started to slow down, according to public health directors across Western New York, who believe there are several reasons for this.

"We are noticing that there is now a lag time in which residents are going after these appointments, so we're noticing that there is some form of hesitancy going on within the community," said Kevin Watkins, the Cattaraugus County public health director.

Added Christine Schuyler, the Chautauqua County public health director: "Many people who have really wanted to get vaccinated have now been vaccinated. There are others who may be having some difficulty getting into the clinics or registering online, so we're coming up with alternate methods for them to be able to sign up and learn about our clinics."

Both Schuyler and Watkins told [Buffalo TV] "2 On Your Side" that it may be time to shift their approach from mass vaccination clinics to smaller sites. "We'll be having smaller satellite clinics in other more remote areas to encourage those who have not gotten vaccinated yet to get vaccinated," Schuyler said.

Added Watkins: "We're going to have to downsize those large mass vaccination clinics that you might have seen in the past, and we're going [to] have to open up smaller clinics. Like, maybe some of the projects or apartment complexes that individuals of low income may not have had transportation means to get to a mass vaccination clinic. We may even have to go into smaller venues like barber shops and salons and grocery stores. Whatever we can do in order to reach a population that has not been vaccinated." They agreed education remains a top priority while combatting misinformation about the vaccines online.

"We know that it's important to reach out to those who have various cultural beliefs, as well as those who have read conflicting data, especially on social media, so that people can be educated on the true science here," Schuyler said. Schuyler told 2 On Your Side they're continuing to make adjustments to make getting vaccinated easier, especially in rural communities.

Modifications include now being able to schedule appointments by phone rather than solely online, and soon offering walk-in clinics.

"People want to return to some sort of a normal life and vaccination really is key to seeing that happen," said Schuyler.

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