HUDSON — Columbia County is slightly behind the state’s average for vaccinating its seniors.
Larry Schwartz, a longtime aide to the governor and head of New York’s COVID vaccine program, told county health department officials the county’s rate for vaccinating its seniors is a little behind the state’s average.
“We received an email from him (Schwartz) basically indicating that Columbia County was below the state average rate for vaccinating seniors,” Columbia County Health Department Director Jack Mabb said.
The state’s rate for vaccinating seniors is about 68%, Mabb said, and Columbia County has been able to vaccinate around 63%.
“Obviously, we’re not crazy below it, but we’re still below,” Mabb said.
Schwartz also informs counties weekly of the number of vaccines they will each receive for the week, Mabb said.
If there are senior citizens who want to get the vaccine and have not been able to, Mabb said they are encouraging them to call the Department of Health call center at 518-697-5560, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
People at the call center can help those individuals to get signed up and scheduled to receive a shot at a vaccination pod.
Mabb said the reasoning for why Columbia is slightly behind other areas is likely that when the county first began its vaccinations and senior citizens were the focus of the vaccine pods the county was receiving 200 doses of the vaccine each week.
There was a point when the county was only vaccinating senior citizens, Mabb said. In the months since then vaccination eligibility had expanded to include individuals with comorbidities, then essential workers in several different categories, and today anyone older then 16 is eligible to receive one.
“At the time when we were only doing seniors we were only receiving 200 doses a week,” Mabb said. “If we had gotten more doses back then we wouldn’t be below the state average. So we will gladly catch up, and vaccinate any senior citizen who wants to get vaccinated.”
This week the Columbia County Department of Health is receiving 1,100 first doses of the vaccine from New York State, Mabb said. This is the largest weekly allotment the county has received to date.
“This is the highest amount we’ve received in a week for first doses,” Mabb said. “And with the second doses we’ll be giving over 2,000 doses by Saturday, and that’s the highest we’ve ever done.”
Eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations opened up Tuesday to anyone 16 and older. Mabb said because of this, the county is expecting an increase in the number of people vying for vaccination appointments for this week’s pods.
Mabb expects the department of health pods to fill up very quickly each week for the next few weeks.
“We’re expecting this week and next week to fill the pods very quickly, Mabb said. “Starting probably the third week of April or so, though, we’re expecting to start to slow down.”
About 33% of the 60,000 residents of Columbia County have received their vaccination, Mabb said. About one-third of those vaccinations have been administered by the county department and about 70% of those vaccinated have received their vaccination outside of the county.
Mabb said county residents have been aggressive about getting the vaccine, and going to where there are vaccinations available to receive it.
Columbia County Department reported a new COVID-related death Monday.
The latest death brings the total in the county since the beginning of the pandemic up to 91.
The individual was an older community member who lived near Livingston Mabb said.
Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said this death was an older community member who lived near Livingston.
In the coming weeks as temperatures continue to warm up Mabb said he expects the county’s COVID numbers begin to decrease.
“We saw a drop off last summer,” Mabb said. “I certainly expect to see another drop off this summer as we all get outside. We might get a little bump up in the next three or four or five days from Easter.”
Because Sunday was a better weather day, Mabb said people being able to celebrate outside which would lessen potential spread of the virus that could come from holiday gatherings.