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Getting a COVID-19 vaccine in rural areas in WNY is still a challenge

Despite 2 new mass vaccination clinics opening on Friday, it's still tough for people in rural counties to get appointments.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With many rural counties lagging behind more populated ones when it comes to the percent of the population getting vaccinated, two new mass vaccination clinics opened Friday in Batavia and Olean.

2 On Your Side has heard from many people about the struggle to find vaccine appointments, especially in rural counties.

Shelley from Wyoming County emailed us saying, "So at this point, it is still nearly impossible for us, over the age of 65 here in Wyoming County, to get a vaccine -- our infection rate is the highest in these WNY counties."

Shelley has tried the pharmacies, and she tried getting an appointment at the new mass vaccination clinic in Batavia at Genesee Community College, but didn't have any luck.

The clinic at GCC, and another that opened in Olean at Jamestown Community College, will each administer 3,500 vaccines over the next five days, but we know at least the one in Batavia was open to anyone who qualifies for Phase 1A or 1B, not just the people who live in rural counties.

RELATED: Erie, Niagara County residents account for over half of Genesee County COVID-19 vaccine clinic appointments

New York State Senator George Borrello said Friday that all 3,500 appointments in Olean were booked within two hours, and he says with those appointments being open to anyone in Phase 1A or 1B, it's leaving people in rural communities behind.

And, 2 On Your Side found out that in Batavia, the majority of people who got appointments don't live in rural counties.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments released numbers on Friday showing that people who live in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties got less than 25-percent of the appointments. Almost 48-percent went to people from Erie County, while 17-percent went to people from Genesee County.

Orleans County got less than five-percent, and Wyoming County got just two-percent.

2 On Your Side viewers with certain medical conditions had issues scheduling appointments using the state's website over the weekend. BUFFALO, N.Y. - People with certain medical conditions can now make vaccine appointments in New York State, but 2 On Your Side received several emails over the weekend from viewers saying they were having problems with the state's vaccine website.

These two new clinics have the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, meaning people won't have to come back for a second appointment.

And, you may have seen reports about the efficacy rates of the three vaccines available right now in the United States. NBC News Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. John Torres explained what they mean.

RELATED: Fauci encourages Americans to take the vaccine 'most available to them'

"When people see those numbers, 72-percent for Johnson and Johnson, 94, 95-percent for Pfizer and Moderna, it gets a bit confusing because you're comparing apples to oranges. When Johnson and Johnson did their studies, they were later on in the pandemic, the variants were already present, they did a lot of these in South Africa where that South African variant was dominant and they found it protected fairly well down there as well. But the important point to realize is when you look across the spectrum at all three of these vaccines, they looked at one denominator and that denominator was how well did it protect you from getting complications, getting hospitalized, and dying from COVID itself, and what they found out is after people got fully vaccinated, none of them in the trial were hospitalized and none of them died from COVID," says Dr. Torres.

Remember, if you're trying to make an appointment online, keep refreshing your web browser, and check for new appointments throughout the day.