Confusion mounts over NY vaccinations; Rite Aid apparently pulled from providers on state website
As many New Yorkers struggle to get an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine, there is confusion over pharmacies that were supposed to offer them as Rite Aid seems to have disappeared from their list of options.
Anyone over 65 can sign up to get the vaccine but getting an appointment has been the tricky part. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told seniors last week to go to pharmacies for the shot rather than mass vaccination sites.
Residents say the New York state website initially showed Rite Aid as a vaccine provider.
"Rite Aid was listed on that New York state gov site for honestly a few days—but by Thursday night, it was gone," says Debbie Conroy, a Putnam County resident.
Some seniors went to their local Rite Aids to ask, only to be told they had the vaccine but couldn't give it out without an appointment.
However, Rite Aid is no longer listed for appointments on the state website.
"Here is a retail vendor that has a vaccine but is unable to provide it because you cannot schedule an appointment," says Ellen Blonstein, a Scarsdale resident.
Seniors who are eager to protect themselves say they are frustrated and want to know why Rite Aid has been removed as an option.
"So many people have perished, and now we have a way to hopefully get a handle on that," said Blonstein. "Like Governor Cuomo says, we're fighting a war and we've got this weapon—we need to use it."
Rite Aid referred News 12 to New York state for comment, since all allocation decisions are determined by the state and local jurisdictions.
When News 12 asked the state, it said its website quickly became overwhelmed when it allowed more people to sign up.
It advised that "people should call their local pharmacies," adding that it removed some appointment options to alleviate website traffic.
"There was a dramatic increase in the eligibility, so now you increase the eligibility, you don't increase the supply, and now you have a very complicated situation," said Cuomo.
Gov. Cuomo continues to point the finger at the federal government, hoping to get a larger shipment of doses soon.