Putnam County Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat, MD, administers Kathy Percacciolo, PCDOH, who is administering a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination for the public health nurse at the Carmel Friendship Center on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Almost a week after Putnam County ran out of its supply of COVID vaccines, the area received just 400 new shots to immunize over 30,700 eligible residents.
As New York grappled with the federal government’s shortage of vaccines, PutE County Executive Mary Ellen Odell said the state had only given the Department of Health 200 vaccines to vaccinate vital workers. Another 200 were sent to a Cold Spring pharmacy to be administered to seniors.
“If you can’t get an appointment for a vaccine, that’s why,” said Odell. “We’re working with the state to get more vaccines.”
Odell stressed that it should be easier and faster for the county’s most vulnerable residents to access the serum. However, this problem is not limited to Putnam County.
Vaccine distribution facilities have been set up across the state, but demand far exceeds supply. Currently, more than seven million New Yorkers are eligible to receive the vaccine, but the state only receives 300,000 doses per week from the federal government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo noted Monday that the federal government has only made about 250,000 vaccines available to New York in the past three weeks. At this rate, it will take about seven months for all currently eligible recipients to be vaccinated.
“The federal government has control over the offer and must increase the offer,” said Cuomo on Monday. “As a state we try to do everything we can.”
As a step-by-step approach, health care workers were the first to receive the vaccine. Last week, police officers, firefighters, other public security workers, educators, transit workers, and people 65 and over were admitted.
However, this deficiency results in counties receiving fewer doses than demand justifies.
According to Odell, Putnam has nearly 18,000 residents aged 65 and over, an estimated 2,600 residents who are law enforcement, firefighters or first responders, about 6,200 who work in education, and about 3,900 healthcare workers.
There are currently four locations where residents can get the vaccine.
The Department of Health has opened clinics at the Philipstown Recreation Center and the Carmel Friendship Center for eligible key workers. According to the county, health officials have vaccinated nearly 1,000 people in the five weeks since the vaccines were made available.
Since the health department is mandated by the state to vaccinate only a very small group of key workers, appointments are not scheduled online. Instead, appointments will be evenly distributed among organizations whose members the department must vaccinate, officials said.
“We’re just trying to be fair and work within the guidelines the state has given us,” said Kathy Percacciolo, PCDOH Supervising Public Health Nurse. “We are very experienced in organizing and running mass vaccination PODs and hope that the state will allow us to vaccinate more of our residents when the supply increases.”
Putnam County Hospital Center also has vaccines but can only immunize health professionals, while Cold Spring’s Drug World is limited to seniors only.
Drug World has been selected by the state to run COVID clinics for people aged 65 and over. The pharmacy vaccinated 140 seniors at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary-in-the-Highlands, also in Cold Spring, last week. The pharmacy is expected to hold vaccination clinics on a regular basis if supplies allow.
To find an appointment, visit https://www.drugworld.com/
Despite the shortage and constraints, officials say it is still worth checking the health ministry website regularly in case it is given the flexibility to vaccinate a wider range of residents in the future. https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/