In addition to a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the Twin Counties have also had technological challenges to overcome in inoculating residents.
As Greene County Public Health was preparing for Friday’s vaccination point of distribution. or POD, to inoculate 770 essential workers with their second dose of the vaccine, the state database where all vaccine information is logged was down, Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said Monday.
“As we were about to open our largest second-dose POD for 770 essential workers, New York State Department of Health decided to do an update to their systems — at 11 a.m. on a Friday morning,” Linger said. “In essence, we ran blind for our schedule and were unable to upload data to the state system as vaccines were dispensed.”
Public Health staff had to enter the data on Saturday instead, Linger said, adding that it must be completed within 24 hours.
“We carried on and accomplished the task at hand using Plan B,” Linger said. “Plan B exists because we’ve trained for such unforeseen circumstances.”
Plan B, in this case, was to record the information on hard copies of the residents’ original application from their first dose, and log the information Saturday into the state’s database, Linger said.
Greene County Public Health completed its 10th vaccination POD on Thursday at the Coxsackie Senior Center, administering 100 Moderna vaccines to eligible residents. Firefighters, law enforcement, corrections officers, teachers, child care providers, public transit workers, people living or working in homeless shelters, restaurant workers, taxi drivers and seniors over 65 are eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B.
People with comorbidities were also eligible beginning Monday.
Nine hundred second doses were administered by Public Health last week. The Moderna vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
About 1,500 residents have been fully vaccinated by Public Health.
People will receive their second dose at the same time and location as their first dose. To view the schedule, visit https://www.greenegovernment.com/greene-county-site-locations-for-second-doses-of-the-covid-19-vaccine?fbclid=IwAR0ta3hWm1vYK1NNARjrIOtDBXGUEae-ghUNFxy_iVW1i0bNdejhUb5xgWY?CB=9006
The flow of vaccines from the state remains slow, Linger said.
“We’re been getting allotments in the 100-200 range,” he said. “I don’t know what we will wind up with this week. We’re also eligible for the comorbidity group and we’re supposed to receive some [vaccines] allocated specific for that population. It’s very slow rolling out and we’re given directives by the state on how to use them. Unfortunately that’s the path they chose instead of the Emergency Operations Center plans. We’re getting there, but it’s very slow.” The number of active virus cases in the county dipped below 100 last week for the first time in months. The most recent COVID-related death was reported Feb. 8, bringing the total to 63. The county had 80 active cases Friday, all but four of which were in the general population. More than 200 people were quarantined and 12 were hospitalized.
To sign up for Greene County’s vaccine notification system, visit https://www.greenegovernment.com/covid-sign-up
The system is designed to expedite the process of getting a vaccine for Greene County residents, but is not a mechanism to schedule an appointment.
A phone number option will be added to the notification system Tuesday for residents without internet access, Linger said.
The Columbia County Department of Health has given 2,319 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 1,204 county residents have received their second dose.
“We get our allocation on Sundays,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said Monday. “This week we’re getting 100 for 1Bs and we’re getting 100 doses for people with comorbidities.”
The county has been receiving 100 doses weekly for specific categories of eligible people in the 1B category for the past several weeks. Two weeks ago the county held a POD for public-facing grocery store employees and last week the county targeted teachers and school employees.
This week the county will likely vaccinate more teachers and staff who are at higher risk for potential exposure to COVID with the 100 doses given to the county and designated for group 1B, Mabb said.
Expanding New York state’s eligibility list to include people with comorbidities significantly increases the number of people that are eligible, Mabb said.
“Law enforcement is a finite number,” Mabb said. “Teachers and firefighters are the biggest groups of people we have in the essential workers category, but the number of people with comorbidities is huge. It rivals the number of people who are over 65.”
Eligible comorbidities include conditions such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, pregnancy, intellectual and developmental disabilities, heart conditions, liver disease and severe obesity, among others.
“We’ve been informed that as far as the comorbidities go that we need to open it up. We can’t just target one group of people like with the 1B category,” Mabb said. “We will likely open a public link so people can register for the comorbidities POD.”
People must have a physician’s note confirming they have an eligible condition in order to receive the vaccine at this time, Mabb said.
“Put it in capital letters in the paper — you will not get a shot if you do not have aletter from your doctor,” Mabb emphasized.
Columbia County has been reporting decreased numbers of new COVID cases over the past several weeks, with the lowest numbers reported since before Thanksgiving, Mabb said. The Department of Health reported 10 new cases Sunday, eight Saturday and 24 Friday.
“I think we’re going to stabilize around these numbers,” Mabb said. “We may see a little spike from Super Bowl parties, but I don’t think things are going to jump really high.”
■ SUNY Albany
To register for an appointment, visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or call the state’s vaccination hotline at 1-833-697-4829.
The following pharmacies are authorized to vaccinate residents over 65. All vaccinations require an appointment and are subject to availability of the vaccine.
■ Kelly’s Pharmacy — Greenville
■ Wellness Rx — Tannersville
■ Hannaford — Cairo, Delmar, Albany, Troy
■ ShopRite — Hudson
n CVS — Valatie, Colonie, Kingston
■ Price Chopper — Schenectady, Latham
n Walgreens — Visit the website and enter your zip code for nearest location