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WASHINGTON COUNTY UPDATES VACCINE DISTRIBUTION PROCESS
Following receipt of our first allocations of the COVID-19 Vaccine over the last two weeks, our team conducted coordinated outreach efforts with our First Responder agencies and Office for the Aging & Disabilities Resource Center, Community Senior Groups and Leaders in an effort to reach many of those eligible populations directly as we kicked-off our distribution process. When we launched our initial coordinated communications campaigns within those groups, we also launched a Vaccine Information Help Line to help accommodate what is a significant need for those in our county without internet to have access to local vaccine event information. Our help line, (active when POD events are open for registration), is composed of team members of dedicated personnel from our Washington County, NY Office for Aging & Disabilities Resource Center, Social Services, Public Health and Public Safety Departments. Additionally, our Help Line staff developed a stand-by list from overflow calls (which is required for all POD events) for emergency call-ins and cancellations to ensure every dose makes it into an eligible arm!
To date, our Washington County, NY Public Health Department and Washington County EMS Vaccination team members have been able to vaccinate 1,259 people with their first doses! The ability to continue dispensing the COVID-19 Vaccine to our communities is dependent on receiving vaccine supply from the state and subsequently the federal government. The vaccine supply we receive from the state comes along with direction in which eligible categories and populations it must be used for, the counties are not able to decide on our own or re-allocate use of vaccine to another category. It remains the goal of our Washington County Public Health team to vaccinate everyone in Washington County who is eligible and wants to be vaccinated. We understand there have been some challenges to the initial rollout of the vaccine nationwide, statewide and here locally in Washington County. As with any process, our team is always looking for ways in which we can identify areas to improve our own processes and systems for the many who rely on us all.
CHANGES TO THE COUNTY’S VACCINE DISTRIBUTION PROCESS
We’re instituting a few changes to our open Point of Dispensing (POD) events and how the announcement and registration process will work, moving forward. For public POD events, we will announce the POD event and the eligible category the day prior to the registration opening on our Coronavirus Information site (at washingtoncountyny.gov/coronavirus), our Vaccine Information Hotline, in our daily e-newsletter (which is free and available for sign-up on our site above) and on our Public Health & Public Safety social media outlets – we’ll also continue sending e-notifications to our local officials and media partners too! Announcing the POD event registration notice the day prior will allow those in the eligible groups for the event, more time to prepare to access the registration link, knowing when registration will open a bit ahead of time. Also, when registration for new events open, we will open the county’s Vaccination Information Help Line (during business hours) to assist those without internet access to have the ability to register for open appointments as well (based on availability of accessible appointments).
I WANT TO BE VACCINATED, WHAT CAN I DO?
County Public Health is only one of the many options available for access to vaccination (and many of the others receive larger allocations of vaccine than the counties), we encourage everyone in our communities to ensure you explore every available option if you want to be vaccinated!
- Are you eligible? http://bit.ly/COVID19_AmIEligible (state sites)
- Check our site for updates: washingtoncountyny.gov/coronavirus
- No internet access? Call (518)746-2422 (County events / info)
- No internet access? Call (833)NYS-4VAX (state run sites)
- Check with your Healthcare Provider
- Check with local Pharmacies (65 and older)
As we look forward, our plan includes continuing to deliver vaccine to every eligible member of our communities, including those in our senior and disabled housing communities, homebound and other difficult to reach populations. Our team of Public Health professionals have worked hard and dedicated much time and effort to ensure we have the framework in place to dispense vaccine, however, in order to accomplish our plan in its entirety, vaccine supply needs to increase and become regular to allow ample time for planning and coordination – additionally, counties need to be allowed to vaccinate all eligible categories. Please know and understand that the supply remains extremely limited and our ability to hold events and expand our distribution program all depend on that supply and the direction on allocation use we receive from the state. We look forward to continuing to work with our Washington County EMS Vaccination team, community healthcare partners, our neighbors at Warren County, NY Public Health and the NYSDOH - New York State Health Department to #VaccinateNY together!
THANK YOU to all of our community members for working with us through the challenges and vaccine roll out process, we look forward to continuing to vaccinate those eligible in our communities and working together to get #shotsinarms to help end the pandemic!