ALBANY — Amid complaints the state gives more COVID-19 vaccine doses to its own inoculation sites than locally-run inoculation programs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York’s health care system is running out of its limited supply of the shots.

The state has set up numerous vaccination centers over the past two weeks, while many county-run vaccine programs have had to cancel appointments for seniors and essential workers due to a lack of Pfizer or Moderna doses.

A CONSTANT PATTERN

Cuomo estimated the state has about 145,000 doses in hand now, but at the current pace of administering the supply is expected to be depleted over the next two to three days.

The governor said he is urging President Joe Biden to immediately address the vaccine shortages that have prompted some senior citizens to make long trips by car to get inoculated.

The supply is so limited, he said, that “you will basically see a constant pattern of running out, waiting for the next week’s allocation, and then starting up again.”

HITTING THE BRAKES

Unable to get the number of vaccine doses they had been expecting, numerous county health departments have hit the brakes on scheduling new appointments. Pharmacy web sites which have been augmented to coordinate appointments of senior citizens note they have no supply and are not taking appointments until they get doses.

Lewis County manage Ryan Piche told Watertown television station WWNY the state “is diverting resources away from local governments in order to prop up their own” vaccine sites.

Other county officials told CNHI that elderly residents from their regions are planning to make long runs to Syracuse, Potsdam and Plattsburgh because their own counties have only a small number of doses.

The state government is expecting to receive just 250,000 additional doses next week even though more than 6 million residents are now eligible for the shots. A little more than 1 million of them have been vaccinated so far.

JUST NEED SUPPLY

Cuomo urged vaccination clinics to hold off on making new appointments unless they know for certain supplies will be heading their way.

Approximately 1,200 vaccination sites have been opened across the state.

“Our distribution is up and running,” Cuomo said. “All we need is the supply.”

The latest positivity rate from coronavirus testing conducted across the state was put at 6.84% Wednesday.

Cuomo wrote to a top executive at Pfizer this week, urging that the company sell vaccine doses directly to the state. But the governor said he has since learned that both Pfizer and Moderna are limited by current arrangements to dealing with the federal government.

The state is hoping vaccines now in development by other producers will soon win federal approval. A vaccine engineered by Johnson & Johnson, if approved, can accomplish with one dose what the others now require two doses for to provide protection from the contagion.

Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at jmahoney@cnhi.com

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