As the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has lagged over the last three weeks, local government officials are pushing to take a bigger role in distributing it. 

They point to their experience in administering annual flu shots and the plans they have in place for the last 20 years to distribute vaccines. 

But those plans have been shelved in favor of the state's approach, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office preferring a more centralized plan in order to avoid a mishmash of distribution across the state. 

Still, county officials argue that's what is happening now.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro in an interview this week pointed to his local public health department, which has been prepared to handle the massive undertaking that is vaccinating residents for the coronavirus. 

"We work together across municipal boundaries and we have the infrastructure ready to go and for some reason the governor and the state want to alter that," said Molinaro, a Republican who challenged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2018 election. "It's convoluted and it's unnecessary and there are lives on the line."

County governments already play a role in distributing the flu shot and have had plans in place for vaccinating residents for COVID-19. Some counties are distributing vaccines for frontline pandemic health care workers, who are now eligible to receive the first dose as part of a phase in to include more of the state's population.

But New York state officials are moving forward with their own vaccine plan that has largely excluded counties.

“Like we said, the virus doesn’t respect county lines and we needed to coordinate all the county plans with the state response to avoid 63 different counties going 63 different direction with no one talking to each other," said Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi.

"As we move through vaccinating the frontline healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents in our first trounce of New Yorkers, we have 46 counties ready to join our efforts in the next two weeks.”

But Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente called the move a perplexing one. 

"Local health departments are trained for this," Picente said. "We have always been the lead for when it comes to this. That was a surprise and continues to be."

Picente, who announced Tuesday he had tested positive for the virus, said this week there needs to be a faster push as the vaccined distribution so far has fallen short.

"The goal should be the urgency of getting this out," Picente said. "This is not a 9 to 5 problem. This is a 24-7 problem. It needs to be addressed, the urgency needs to be stepped up."

For now New York is centering its distribution plan on hospitals as health care workers are eligible for the first of two doses.

The governor at a news in conference in Albany on Tuesday once again sought to publicly pressure hospitals to accelerate the vaccinations. 

"If a hospital is not competent, and can't do this, we'll use another hospital," Cuomo said. 

New York will use more than 6,000 sites -- including pharmacies, urgent care centers and public college campuses -- to distribute the vaccine to the general public.