Tomorrow (Monday, January 11, 2021) the county is officially in the second phase (1B) of the vaccination program. This phase is supposed to provide shots to persons over 75, persons with underlying conditions, health care workers, and a variety of groups such as the police, EMT people, teachers, and transportation workers. My understanding is that the county has not been told how many vaccines they can expect to receive but according to the Times Union, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Todd Kusnierz announced that he expects approximately 30,000 vaccines.
There is nothing on the county website as to where the county plans to set up its vaccination sites or anything else of significance regarding the program. For some reason, the press conference updating the community on COVID that included Kusnierz, Saratoga County Health Commissioner Daniel Kuhles, and Supervisor Tara Gaston has mysteriously disappeared from the county website.
If you navigate the county website for information on the vaccination program you end up at this page on their site. If you click on the button labeled “COVID-19 Vaccine” you end up at the New York State Health Department site.
My main questions have to deal with the county’s preparedness. Where will the sites be and what is the potential number of vaccines that the county will be able to do at each site each day?
I wrote to our Supervisors Tara Gaston and Matthew Veitch asking for this really basic information. Remember, the program officially begins tomorrow.
Supervisor Gaston did reply. In fact she was courteous enough to reply at 9:00 PM this evening (January 10, 2021).
In her email she wrote, “I have pasted a post below that will answer most of these questions.”
With respect, she did not actually answer any of my questions. She alludes to the county having identified locations but doesn’t actually identify any and asserts that these locations are “heavily dependent on knowing the doses available.”
Her Facebook page adds, “Tomorrow I will be reviewing information on available and potential PODs (Points of Distribution) with public health and County leadership to determine additional locations with a focus on efficiency and equity.”
She writes, “I expect to provide additional information tomorrow, or Tuesday’s Health & Social Services meeting at the latest, after reviewing the additional information I requested staff obtain and compile on each location. “
Hopefully, my questions will be answered then.
Full Text Of Supervisor Gaston’s Email
I have pasted a post below that will answer most of these questions. There are current or potential open POD locations with vaccination capacities from fewer than 100 individuals to thousands of individuals in a day. Schedules and locations of these PODs are heavily dependent on knowing the doses we will have available – 100 and 1,000 and 10,000 doses would each have different deployments. These PODs are different than closed PODs, which would be limited to individuals at that facility that meet eligibility requirements; a nursing home would, for example, generally be a closed POD. I expect to provide additional information tomorrow, or Tuesday’s Health & Social Services meeting at the latest, after reviewing the additional information I requested staff obtain and compile on each location.
From my Facebook page this evening:
did announce eligibility expansion to Phase 1b starting tomorrow, we are unable to make vaccination appointments until we know when and how many more doses we will receive.
This is an issue shared by other vaccination providers in our area, as you can see when using the state’s Am I Eligible website (link below). This does not mean that there are no vaccines, but that all available doses are allocated.
Additionally, the state vaccination plan requires that individuals register through the state system and obtain an appointment for vaccination; we cannot simply have open clinics for any eligible individual. Once appointments are available, we will be opening a registration call line to assist eligible individuals who may be less comfortable with or have limited access to technology.
I also know there are concerns on where vaccine points of distribution (PODs) will be located in the county. There are a number of sites where SCPHS has previously drilled and prepared, as well as a number of new options available. Tomorrow I will be reviewing information on available and potential PODs with public health and County leadership to determine additional locations with a focus on efficiency and equity.
– TNG Supervisor Tara N. Gaston | she/her