County Awaiting State Guidelines On COVID-19 Vaccination Priority

Image via Chautauqua County Government.

MAYVILLE — While Chautauqua County continues to vaccinate vulnerable residents for COVID-19, they are waiting state guidelines before addressing newer priority goals from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Before making a decision on the expansion of the Phase 1b eligible groups, the county health department is waiting for written guidance from the NYSDOH, Christine Schuyler, Public Health Director, said.

“There is a limited supply of vaccine and an extremely large number of people already eligible in Phase 1b who have not yet received vaccine so further expansion at this time will need to be weighed out carefully,” Schuyler explained.

Christine Schuyler, Public Health Director

In a release, health officials said COVID-19 vaccine providers are administering vaccine as quickly as they receive their allocations from New York State. Currently, only hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health departments and certain pharmacies have received allocations of vaccine from the State.

“Information per individual vaccine provider, such as number of doses requested, received, and administered, is not available at the local level, therefore the only provider data available to us is our own,” said Schuyler. “Through January 30, County clinics administered 2,766 first doses and 20 second doses. Not one dose of vaccine has gone to waste.”

County Residents Vaccinated by All Entities (long-term care, hospitals, FQHC, health department, pharmacies) show first doses given as 8,693 or 6.71 percent of county residents. Second doses statistics from the health department show 1,672 given, which is 1.29 percent of county residents.% of County Residents)

New York’s vaccine distribution plan currently includes Phase 1a and initial groups from Phase 1b. A complete list of those eligible can be found at The New York State Department of Health is requiring targeted prioritization of certain eligible populations for vaccine administration. Accordingly, on Jan. 15, county health departments were directed to prioritize essential workers in Phase 1b. Other enrolled vaccine providers were directed that they must prioritize other eligible populations (e.g., pharmacies must vaccinate those over 65; hospitals must prioritize 1a healthcare workers).

On January 30, county health departments were directed to prioritize OPWDD (Office for People With Developmental Disabilities) residents and staff because hospitals had not been able to effectively reach this population. On Tuesday 2, Governor Cuomo announced that county health departments may expand the eligible Phase 1b group to include taxi/Uber drivers, restaurant workers, and those living and working in developmentally disabled facilities if they feel it works within their prioritization locally.

“Because we realized that OPWDD (Office for People With Developmental Disabilities) residents and staff are very vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and complications and need special accommodations to receive vaccine, we partnered with local and state providers to vaccinate a significant amount of their residents and staff with first doses in early January as part of Phase 1a,” said Schuyler. “We’re hopeful that we will now be able to see this through if additional allocations come for this population as promised.”


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