Flu shots rehearsal for COVID vaccine

Health departments in the Twin Counties are putting plans in place to administer COVID-19 vaccinations when they become available. Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Local health jurisdictions are laying the groundwork for handling the distribution and administration of a COVID-19 vaccine when one is approved and becomes available.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has directed state and local health departments to begin preparations for how to best handle a COVID vaccine.

“The state health department asked us within the last couple of weeks to look at doing drive-thru flu clinics as preparation for giving out the COVID vaccine,” Columbia County Public Health Department Executive Director Jack Mabb said Friday.

The drive-thru flu clinics are a good way to practice distributing a vaccine to the public before a COVID vaccine becomes available, Mabb said.

Columbia County recently announced a schedule of upcoming drive-up flu shot clinics. The county has planned six from Sept. 23 to Oct. 22 at various locations throughout the county.

“Our thinking is that we could use these sites for our COVID vaccinations,” Mabb said. “Because it’s likely we’re looking at the winter months when the vaccine becomes available, we’re also in conversation with two locations in the community both fairly centrally located, that we could do a drive-thru where the people would be able to actually drive through the building.”

The county is looking for suitable locations where COVID vaccination clinics can be held.

“We’re finding a site that would be suitable for us to use in the winter months, because they are heated, and were also practicing the whole concept of the drive-thru,” Mabb said.

Greene County is working on plans to administer COVID vaccinations once they become available, Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.

“Those are plans that are being developed specifically for the coronavirus,” Linger said.

Greene County Public Health holds annual exercises and a mass vaccination drill to ensure plans are in place to handle large-scale vaccination initiatives, Linger said.

“These are things we regularly drill on and practice on and try to plan as best as we can for. The Public Health Department is in the middle of developing that right now,” Linger said.

Greene County has scheduled four dates when flu vaccinations will be administered — Sept. 22 at Riverside Park in Coxsackie, Sept. 24 at the Windham Waste Treatment Facility, Sept. 29 at Dutchman’s Landing in Catskill, Oct. 1 at Angelo Canna Town Park in Cairo.

The cost of the vaccination for a senior age 65 and older is $80, and $51 for people ages 18-64. Insurance plans are accepted and pre-registration is required. For more information, visit greenegovernment.com.

As of Thursday, Columbia County has had 37 COVID-related deaths and Greene County has had 19, according to Health Department records.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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