Published January 20, 2021
The first of what could be tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers received COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday at Harriman Hall, an important step in fighting the virus that was first detected in the United States one year ago.
The UB South Campus site, which is being operated by New York State, is among a growing network of locations in the greater Buffalo area and statewide offering the vaccine to senior citizens, first responders and other essential workers.
“This is our weapon. This vaccine, a shot in the arm, is literally our weapon in a war that we will win,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who spoke at the nearby Biomedical Education Building before touring Harriman Hall with President Satish K. Tripathi.
The state expects to vaccinate 500 people a day at Harriman.
Hochul said the virus, which has killed nearly 400,000 people in the U.S., has caused great stress and anxiety. There have been short supplies of the vaccine, she said, adding that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state leaders are working to procure as many doses as possible.
She compared the vaccination effort to testing for the virus, which during the start of the pandemic was limited but expanded rapidly as more test kits became available.
Key to a similar expansion for the vaccine, she said, are state-run sites like the one at Harriman Hall. With its location on UB’s South Campus, the site is going to be accessible for “many Western New Yorkers, particularly those who live in the city of Buffalo,” Hochul said.
Tripathi said the university is pleased to host the vaccination site.
“Today marks another important step in protecting our region from this public health threat,” he said.
The site is the latest example of UB helping Western New York and New York State respond to the pandemic. It comes as UB faculty, students and health care professionals continue to work on the frontlines in the region’s hospitals, as health informatics researchers give local officials early warnings of surges in cases, and as health equity leaders work to ensure Buffalo’s underserved populations have access to medical care.
“Your leadership here, and the resources of the University at Buffalo, have really put Western New York in a unique place in this battle,” Hochul said.
She thanked Michael Cain, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who since the onset of the pandemic has worked with local and state officials to coordinate the region’s response. She noted Cain is a member of the Western New York Vaccine Hub leadership team, which she leads and includes Catholic Health President and CEO Mark A. Sullivan and Erie County Medical Center President and CEO Thomas J. Quatroche Jr.
Hochul also cited the contributions of Nancy Nielsen, senior associate dean for health policy in the Jacobs School and a member of the Western New York Vaccine Hub team, noting that Nielsen is “literally in daily contact with each of the five county public health departments.”
Vaccines distributed on the South Campus will be provided to Western New York community members by appointment only and in accordance with guidelines developed by the New York State Department of Health.
Vaccines are being administered to people who meet the current criteria and have scheduled an appointment through the state’s eligibility website.
The state is currently vaccinating people in the 1a and 1b eligibility groups, which include frontline physicians and health care workers, first responders, individuals age 65 and older, grocery store workers, in-person college instructors and public transit workers, among others. The full list is available on the state’s vaccine site.
It is unlikely that UB will receive a supply of vaccine to vaccinate UB students, faculty and staff. The university’s COVID-19 information website now has a page with vaccination FAQs for UB students and employees.