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Vaccine rollout ‘extremely disappointing’ so far

Senator Rob Ortt Facebook

The rollout of the next phase of New York’s COVID-19 vaccination plan continued to experience glitches on Monday, with sites for seniors to sign up for vaccines not working or overwhelmed.

Registration for New Yorkers over the age of 75, who are included in the next group eligible for the vaccine, began at 8 a.m. Monday. But some providers listed on the state health department’s website said they were not prepared to do vaccinations and other links or phone numbers resulted in dead ends.

Cuomo, in his State of the State address said he’s focusing on getting the vaccines out smoothly, and he blamed the federal government for supply issues.

Republican state lawmakers were vocal in their criticisms, saying the Cuomo administration was unprepared.

Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said he and other senators were getting phone calls all day from constituents complaining about the state’s vaccination website not working properly.

“It’s harder for people to believe that you can fix these larger systemic issues when you can’t do small things right,” Ortt said.

The Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, is also expressing concerns.

“The vaccine rollout, as we know, has been extremely disappointing,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Stewart-Cousins said Democratic senators have requested and received briefings from the state department of health, and are encouraged that more sites will be opening soon, but she said more needs to be done. 

The state health department announced a new centralized hotline, that opened at 4 p.m. Monday, to help ease the confusion, and said that beginning Friday, larger mass vaccination sites at SUNY campuses and other locations will conduct walk-in clinics. Appointments are still necessary.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.