‘People Cry When They Get It’

Medical volunteers bolster vaccination effort

Jill Sussman

Jill Sussman, a volunteer with Putnam County’s Medical Reserve Corps, applies a bandage after administering a vaccine on Monday, Jan. 11. (Photo by L. Sparks)

Jill Sussman, a retired nursing professor, felt she could not sit on the sidelines while COVID-19 spread across the state in March, so she volunteered to be a contact tracer for Putnam County. 

Now, as a volunteer with the county’s Medical Reserve Corps, she is giving her time and energy to another mass mobilization: the push to quickly vaccinate people in the face of soaring infections in Dutchess and Putnam counties. 

On Monday (Jan. 11), the Garrison resident was administering vaccines at the county’s senior center in Carmel.

“People cry when they get it,” Sussman said. “It’s quite moving to see that.” 

While hospitals, pharmacies and urgent care centers have leading roles in the vaccination effort, the state’s all-hands-on-deck approach will also depend on volunteers like Sussman. 

Dutchess, Putnam and other counties had already mobilized hundreds of volunteers who make up the Medical Reserve Corps to help test people for COVID-19 and contact anyone at risk of infection. 

Along with the local corps, the state is recruiting dental hygienists, midwives and podiatrists, as well as students in medical-related and midwifery programs, to train as vaccinators. Drug World in Cold Spring, which has a long waiting list of people wanting vaccines, is also calling for volunteers.

dutchess county vaccination 5

Dr. Anil Vaidian, Dutchess County’s health commissioner, received a COVID-19 vaccine shot on Jan. 5 from Patti Tessler, a member of the county’s Medical Reserve Corps. (Photo provided)

Antony Tseng, an EMT with the Beacon Volunteer Ambulance Corps, joined Dutchess County’s Medical Reserve Corps when the shutdown began in the spring, answering phone calls to the county COVID-19 hotline. 

Last week he worked an afternoon shift at a vaccination clinic, monitoring newly vaccinated people who are told to remain on site for 15 minutes to ensure they have no adverse reactions. 

“It would be in everyone’s best interest to facilitate vaccinations to get into as many arms as possible for the good of the many,” said Tseng, who is also a member of the Beacon school board. “Giving more opportunities for people to get the vaccine is key.” 

How to Volunteer

Drug World: drugworld.com

Dutchess Medical Reserve Corps: 

bit.ly/dutchess-medical

Putnam Medical Reserve Corps: 

bit.ly/putnam-medical

New York State: bit.ly/NYS-training

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