MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Health Department successfully held its first point of distribution (POD) for the COVID-19 vaccine this week.
That’s according to Chautauqua County Public Health Director Christine Schuyler, who spoke with WNY News Now on Thursday.
She says that those who qualified for the Phase 1A of New York State’s Vaccine Distribution Plan were vaccinated on Wednesday. A second POD is scheduled for Saturday.
The Public Health Director says mass vaccination in a pandemic requires close collaboration between public health, external agencies and community partners, especially as the first phase of the plan calls for the utilization of hospitals for the vaccinations.
Schuyler says she believes the hospitals shouldn’t necessarily be responsible for vaccinated outside populations.
“I feel that hospitals have been required to do something that none of them knew they had to do, many of them don’t know how to do, and many don’t have the capacity to do,” Schuyler said. “Their main priority right now is to care for their patients. It’s one thing to have to vaccinate their own staff, and that is fully acceptable, but to have clinics where outside populations are coming into hospitals to be vaccinated by staff who are already very busy isn’t necessarily the best approach, I feel, for a max vaccination effort.”
“Fortunately, in Chautauqua County, we are able to partner so well together (with external agencies and community partners),” Schuyler added.
On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said starting on Monday the state will allow a much wider swath of the public to get inoculated, including anyone age 75 or older.
He says under the new system, providers will be accepting vaccine reservations for the 1a and 1b groups, which includes health care staff, New Yorkers over 75, teachers, emergency responders, and teachers.
“We need a million additional doses just to take care of the health care workers,” said Cuomo. With that in mind, Cuomo said he is also hoping to get large labor unions involved. He said he is asking police, firefighters’, and teachers’ unions to try to organize their own plans to administer vaccines among their members.
The Department of Health will be holding webinar on Monday for new providers. Cuommo said doses will continue to be distributed proportionally by group and by region. If there’s willful fraud, those groups would be disqualified.
He said the vaccine should be administered based on “pure math,” without any favoritism or special favors for “big shots.”
Those eligible for vaccination under phase 1a include:
- High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff)
- Residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate care facilities
- Federally Qualified Health Center employees
- EMS workers
- Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers
- Staff and residents at OPWDD, OMH and OASAS facilities
- Urgent Care providers
- Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines
- All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care
- All staff who are in direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff)
- All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations
- This includes, but is not limited to,
- Doctors who work in private medical practices and their staff
- Doctors who work in hospital-affiliated medical practices and their staff
- Doctors who work in public health clinics and their staff
- Registered Nurses
- Specialty medical practices of all types
- Dentists and Orthodontists and their staff
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists and their staff
- Physical Therapists and their staff
- Optometrists and their staff
- Pharmacists and Pharmacy Aides
- Home care workers
- Hospice workers
- Staff of nursing homes/skilled nursing facilities who did not receive COVID vaccination through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program
Those under Phase 1B includes:
- Teachers and education workers
- First responders
- Public safety workers
- Public transit workers
- People 75 and older
The county’s Public Health Director says local health departments have no ability to stray from the state’s phased distribution plan, and that, it will take considerable time to get enough vaccine to vaccinate such large numbers of people