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WNYers travel to Rochester for vaccinations, as local clinics are canceled

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Max Schulte / WXXI News
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The state-run COVID-19 vaccination site at the Dome Arena in Henrietta opened Wednesday.

People are apparently traveling long distances to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told his briefing Wednesday that some have gone from Buffalo to Rochester.

"Who literally will shop sites all over," Cuomo said. "I know we have people who go to state sites that are two hours away to get a vaccine. I know we have a lot of people in the Buffalo area who go to Rochester to get vaccines."

Hundreds of people lined up Wednesday at the opening of the Dome Arena in Henrietta, outside Rochester, one of the state-run sites where COVID-19 vaccinations are being given.

Marianne Gustafson was among those waiting to get her shot. When it was done, she said she was very glad she had signed up.

“It was great, everything went smoothly," Gustafson said. "I had absolutely no trouble, they’re very organized, lots and lots of volunteers, and I’m thrilled to be here on day 1 getting my vaccination for the first time.”  

Gustafson said, like many people, that she hasn’t been able to see much of her children or grandchildren, or do much traveling. With the vaccine, she hopes that can change.

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Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News
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"I’m hoping that not only me, but everybody else starts to be safe and we’d be able to get people back to work, be able to go travel," she added. "I retired June 30 and I had to cancel all my plans so we’re looking forward to doing to doing some cruising, traveling, and seeing friends and family out of town."

Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa approved "shopping sites," as long as travelers meet the current requirements, which include a wide array of first responders and health care workers and those over age 65.

"They are regional hubs that are strategically in places where we know there are population centers," she said. "But people can travel around the state and reach any of them and we do track. In addition to where we’re allocating the vaccinations, we’re tracking who is consuming the vaccinations to make sure that, county by county, there’s parity and equity. And we haven’t seen any significant issues at this point."

Of course, all of that travel could be for naught, since there is an extreme shortage of the vaccine. DeRosa said state vaccination sites have been set up in such a way that if more vaccine shows up from the federal government, the number of people vaccinated can be rapidly increased.

"We're very optimistic under the new administration, and as (President Biden) has promised, 100 million doses in the first 100 days," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who attended the opening of the Dome Arena site. "New York state will be there with our hands out, waiting for our share."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
Max Schulte is responsible for creating video and photo elements for WXXI News and its digital spaces. He also assists with news and public affairs coverage, digital-first video content, and studio productions. Prior to joining WXXI News, Schulte was a staff photographer for the Democrat and Chronicle for 23 years, his last two years he was lead photographer. Focusing his lens on breaking news and visual storytelling, he has earned national and New York State Associated Press Association honor for both his still photography and video. A native of Buffalo, Schulte grew up in the Elmwood Village. He is a Rochester Institute of Technology graduate with a BFA degree in photojournalism. His passion for photography started in grammar school and continues to this day.
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