COVID-19 Vaccine Updates (February)

Moderna vaccine

State achieves record-high vaccinations

■ Cuomo said on Feb. 26 that that state achieved a record-high for a 24-hour period of 179,038 vaccines administered. “Nearly 180,000 vaccinations in a single day is a major milestone,” he said.

■ The state is working with local health departments to develop vaccination sites designated for residents 65 and older, and provide transportation to and from those locations and help with paperwork, Cuomo said on Feb. 26. Counties, which so far have focused on inoculating essential workers, will receive additional Moderna vaccines for those sites starting next week, he said. Locations, dates, times and hours will be announced, said Cuomo. Dutchess spokesperson Colleen Pillus said the county was told of the expanded access and will receive additional doses. “While we weren’t given an amount, we are prepared to distribute whatever we secure,” she said.

■ Counties can now begin vaccinating hotel workers along with other essential employees, Cuomo said on Feb. 26. Hotels are being used to isolate COVID-19-positive people in some areas of New York, exposing their staff to infections risks, according to the state.

■ Dutchess County received an additional 700 doses to supplement the 1,200 it has been receiving. The extra doses “will help us move the needle a little bit more,” Molinaro said during his weekly town hall on Feb. 23.

north highlands clinic

Bev Taylor, a volunteer nurse, administers a vaccine at a clinic at the North Highlands firehouse in Philipstown on March 5. (Photo by Ross Corsair)

■ The Town of Philipstown announced on Feb. 23 that Haldane High School seniors are volunteering to help elderly residents unable to navigate multiple websites find vaccination appointments. Residents can email their phone number and consent to be contacted by a student to town Councilwoman Judy Farrell at [email protected]

■ Putnam County received on Feb. 22 a shipment of 500 Moderna doses that was delayed from being delivered last week because of winter storms. Of the doses, 200 will be used for people ready for second doses; 100 for those with developmental disabilities; and 200 for essential workers and residents with eligible underlying medical conditions.

■ Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, whose district includes Beacon, is calling on the state to establish permanent vaccination sites in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie and to simplify its “haphazard and frustrating signup process” for vaccines. The state held “pop-up” vaccination clinics at the Newburgh Armory and Beulah Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, but “residents need reliability and consistency,” said Jacobson. He also said the state needs a “user-friendly” system where people can sign up by phone or online and receive an alert when an appointment is available nearby.

■ Molinaro is lobbying the state to open a mass-vaccination site at the former JCPenney space at Poughkeepsie Galleria, which is used by the county health department to administer vaccines. In a letter to Cuomo on Feb. 19, Molinaro said the space, at 185,000 square feet, is “ideally situated” to hold large vaccination clinics. “With current vaccine allocation of less than 1,000 doses per week from New York State, the site is currently operating well below its capacity,” he said.

Nurses photo

Medical Reserve Corps and Putnam County public health nurses posed with Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat on Feb. 4 before the doors opened at the first second-dose clinic held in the county, at the Carmel senior center. (Photo by Susan Hoffner / Putnam County)

■ Overdue shipments of Pfizer vaccines delayed by winter storms are scheduled to arrive by Feb. 22, followed by new shipments on Feb. 23 and 24, Cuomo said on Feb. 19. Delayed shipments of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive by the middle of next week, and new orders by the end of the week.

■ Dutchess County had to cancel about 500 vaccine appointments because a link the county sends to school districts, fire departments, police agencies and other employers was shared on Feb. 16 “with the broader public,” Molinaro said on Feb. 17 during his weekly Facebook town hall. The county, following state guidelines, prioritizes teachers, firefighters, police officers and other essential workers for vaccines, sending links for reserved slots to their employers. “I understand you got an appointment, it was canceled, it’s unnerving, but equally unnerving was the fact that there were 500 people who were already told they were getting an appointment and they couldn’t schedule them. And so those people had their opportunity taken from them,” said Molinaro.

■ Putnam County said on Feb. 17 that a shipment of vaccine doses it expected to receive on Feb. 16 was rerouted back to Kentucky due to weather and a need to keep the doses at the right temperature. The county also said it has yet to receive second doses for people who received their first ones on Jan. 21. The state Department of Health has said the doses will be sent, but has not given an arrival date yet, the county said.

■ Dutchess County rescheduled a vaccination clinic from Feb. 18 to 21 because of “weather-related shipping issues.” Residents with appointments will be notified by phone or email.

■ The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open four more mass-vaccination sites, in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers, that will administer doses to 1,000 people a day beginning the first week of March, Cuomo said on Feb. 15. The first two sites proposed by FEMA were at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens. Each site will initially limit eligibility to people in the surrounding communities to reduce disparities in vaccination rates among racial groups.

■ The federal government is doubling its vaccine allocation to pharmacies to 2 million doses and increasing the doses sent weekly to states by roughly 2.5 million, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Feb. 16. On Feb. 11, CVS, Walgreens and grocery store-based pharmacies began receiving 1 million doses directly from the federal government to administer. The states will see their allocation increase to 13.5 million doses next week. This week, according to federal data, states are receiving roughly 11 million doses.

■ Appointments are booked through April 16 at nine of the 13 state-run vaccination sites, including the one at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, Cuomo said on Feb. 16. About 251,000 people booked appointments on Feb. 14 at the state sites, the largest single-day registration since the first ones opened last month. The state fairgrounds in Syracuse, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Stony Brook, and the Rochester Dome are the only sites not yet booked through April 16.

■ The percentage of hospital workers vaccinated in Putnam County rose to 60 percent as of Feb. 15, compared to 54 percent on Feb. 3. The rate is still the lowest among the seven counties in the Mid-Hudson Region. Dutchess had 85 percent of its hospital workers vaccinated, compared to 83 percent on Feb. 3.

■ Residents of any age with certain medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and pulmonary disease are eligible to book vaccine appointments at the state’s Am I Eligible website starting on Feb. 15. Local health departments will also receive vaccines for those residents, Cuomo said on Feb. 13. People will need to prove their eligibility with a doctor’s letter, medical documents or a signed certification. A full list of conditions can be found at the state Department of Health’s vaccine eligibility webpage.

■ A walk-in vaccination clinic for military veterans who are essential workers or 65 and older was held on Feb. 13 at the VA hospitals at Castle Point in Wappingers Falls and at Montrose. For information, call 845-831-2000, and press “3.”

■ More than 100,000 people received first and second doses in a 24-hour period and about 10 percent of the state’s residents have been given a first dose, Cuomo said on Feb. 11. “We’ve hit a significant milestone in the COVID war,” he said.

■ Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar with the Hastings Institute in Garrison, was interviewed by the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer for articles about queue-jumping, in which people ineligible for vaccines in their home states are traveling to other states to get their shots and others are using money, connections and deception to bypass eligibility guidelines.

Maureen McCabe

Maureen McCabe, who works in the meat department at Foodtown, is one of the first employees at the grocery to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic held on Jan. 28 at the Philipstown Recreation Center. (Photo by Susan Hoffner)

■ The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open mass-vaccination sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens, Cuomo and Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said on Feb. 10. Each site is reserved for residents of those boroughs to improve vaccine access for Black and Latino residents and is expected to give shots to 3,000 people per day. The state is working with FEMA on opening additional mass-vaccination sites focused on “socially vulnerable” residents, said Cuomo.

■ Dutchess County has replaced the online form residents fill out to receive email notifications about upcoming vaccination appointments, a change that requires the roughly 25,000 people currently receiving updates to complete the form again, Molinaro said on Feb. 9. The new Vaccination Information Request Form asks residents to identify their vaccine eligibility category, such as health care or essential worker, or senior 65 and over. Anyone without internet access can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline, 845-486-3555, to get updates about vaccine availability. Seniors can use the number to be added to the Dutchess Office for the Aging’s notification list.

■ On Feb. 9, Cuomo announced that 11 new pop-up vaccination clinics, including ones in Kingston and Spring Valley, are opening this week at community centers, public housing complexes and cultural centers. The community-based sites are part of the state’s strategy to boost access to the vaccine in Black and Latino communities.

■ Cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure are among the health conditions that qualify New York residents to be vaccinated starting on Feb. 15, Cuomo said on Feb. 5.  People with underlying health conditions represent about 92 percent of the state’s nearly 36,000 COVID-19 deaths. The full list includes:

  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease

■ Dutchess County is accepting applications from people interested in temporary positions administering COVID-19 vaccines. Applicants must be at least 18 and either medical personnel qualified to give vaccines or employed as a dentist, dental hygienist, emergency medical technician or advanced emergency medical technician, licensed practical nurse, midwife, pharmacist or podiatrist. Students in eligible education programs, such as dentistry and nursing, can also apply. Applications can be downloaded at dutchessny.gov.

■ About 6,500 pharmacy locations began vaccinating people on Feb. 11 under the federal government’s Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program. In New York state (excluding New York City) the program will launch initially with CVS, Walgreens and Retail Business Services Inc., which provides pharmacy services to grocery chains that include Stop & Shop. Pharmacies will receive an initial allotment of 1 million doses.

■ Cuomo talked earlier this week about the underrepresentation of Blacks in the count of hospital workers receiving vaccinations, but the figures released by the state on Feb. 5 show that the problem extends to the pool of essential workers and residents 65 and over who are eligible for shots. Blacks account for 17 percent of the essential workers now eligible, but have received 5 percent of the vaccinations, said the governor. Among the elderly residents vaccinated so far, Blacks have received 4 percent of the shots while being 13 percent of the eligible population.

Hospital Workers Essential Workers 65+ population
63% of vaccine recipients were white (70% of eligible population) 74% of vaccine recipients were white (75% of eligible population) 78% of vaccine recipients were white 77% of eligible population)
10% of vaccine recipients were African American (17% of eligible population) 5% of vaccine recipients were African American (17% of eligible population) 4% of vaccine recipients were African American (13% of eligible population)
10% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (9% of eligible population) 10% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (14% of eligible population) 5% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (12 % of eligible population)
16% of vaccine recipients were Asian (12% of eligible population) 7% of vaccine recipients were Asian (6% of eligible population) 8% of vaccine recipients were Asian (7% of eligible population)

■ New York State began vaccinating prisoners 65 and over on Feb. 5, said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo. DeRosa said that 1,075 prisoners are eligible. Corrections officers and other prison staff had already been eligible to receive vaccinations.

■ The state’s Vaccine Dashboard now includes, for each county, the percentages of hospital workers vaccinated and the percentages of nursing home residents and staff receiving shots. Dutchess had 83 percent of its hospital workers vaccinated as of Feb. 3, compared to 54 percent in Putnam County, which has the lowest rate in the seven-county Mid-Hudson Region. Dutchess nursing homes had vaccinated 81 percent of residents and 46 percent of staff as of Wednesday, while the rates in Putnam were 88 percent for residents and 54 for staff.

Leave a Reply

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. Submissions are selected by the editor to provide a variety of opinions and voices, and all are subject to editing for accuracy, clarity and length. We ask that writers remain civil and avoid personal attacks. Submissions must include your first and last name (no pseudonyms), as well as a valid email address (which will not be published). Please allow up to 24 hours for an approved submission to be posted. All online comments may also appear in print.