By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
“There is not an adequate supply of the vaccine,” David Bliss, county Board of Representatives chair, said Tuesday, Jan. 19. “This is a statewide problem.”
According to a list he provided, the problems include:
• Demand is higher than the
• Only a 100-dose weekly allotment to the county Health Department and selected pharmacies.
• Undependable allotment to Bassett Hospital.
• Local appointments aren’t held for local people.
• The State of New York controls distribution of a limited supply.
• The state is falling down on communication.
• Due to high traffic, the state
COVID-19 website keeps crashing.
• Pharmacy reservation systems have no bearing on how much vaccine may be available.
• The state is receiving 250,000 doses a week, but has 7 million residents eligible for the vaccines.
• Eligibility still limited to Phases 1A and 1B.
“It’s a crapshoot,” Bliss said. “But we have reason to be hopeful: The fact that we had the vaccine months ahead of anticipation to begin administering before Christmas was an absolute miracle.”
In an interview the same day, Bassett Pharmacy Director Kelly Rudd said two additional anti-COVID vaccines – AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s – are now in clinical trials, and could be available in a few weeks.
Another positive: The county is receiving some doses when neighboring counties are not.
According to Bliss, per his attendance at regular Mohawk Valley COVID-19 briefings, Otsego received 300 doses, while Schoharie got none.
The county Department of Health has received another 100-dose allotment and will be vaccinating at a clinic later this week. Bassett Hospital also continues to request vaccines weekly, although fulfillment of these requests are not guaranteed.
“We are prepared and ready to go within our sphere,” Rudd said. “We are just waiting for the next step from the state.”
The general population, she continued, likely won’t receive the vaccine at their Bassett Primary Care provider or at any clinics in the near future as it is not very “efficient.”
Dr. Tommy Ibrahim, Bassett Healthcare Network president/CEO, added that, at this time, any timeline is “speculation.”
Still, he said, Bassett is working with the county Health Department to organize vaccination sites similar to those in metropolitan areas across the state.
“We are having high level exploratory conversations,” said Ibrahim. “All of which are dependent on the number of vaccines the county receives for distribution.”
The advice from Bliss, Bond, Ibrahim and Rudd are all the same: be patient and stay on it. The roll out of the limited anti-COVID supply is going to take time.
“We not only wish we could schedule more appointments, we wish we were able to get information out to the public quicker,” Ibrahim said. “Unfortunately, there is a funnel we are receiving information through.”
The best thing community members can do is continue to wash their hands, wear masks, limit gatherings and follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC.
It is easy and even reasonable to be frustrated or impatient; however, it is a testament to Operation Warp Speed, according to Bliss, that we are turning the corner.
Ibrahim adds, “To their credit, our staff is tired and has sacrificed a lot for nearly a year now. I can’t applaud them enough for their tremendous efforts that have been truly extraordinary.”
“The situation is fluid and changes daily,” Rudd said.
“The best thing people can do is continue to check pharmacy, hospital and state websites for the latest information and availability,” Bliss added.
Bassett patients can also receive updates with vetted and accurate information via the MyBassett application.
“We will continue to inform the community as we receive new information,” Ibrahim said.