By MIKE FORSTER ROTHBART & JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
About 25 percent of us, 16,242, have completed the two shot-cycle. (Tuesday, April 13, Governor Cuomo suspended use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson option.)
“Anybody who’s refusing to get a vaccine is perpetuating the pandemic,” county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said bluntly. “We know the vaccine works. It works well. It’s safe. Now’s the time to really up your personal responsibility and get vaccinated.”
As reported in this newspaper two weeks ago, Springbrook is offering a $500 bonus to overcome workers’ resistance to vaccinations. But not everybody has that option.
In an interview in recent days,Lacey Rinker, Cooperstown Center director of nursing, said 44.5 percent of the nursing home’s staff is “fully vaccinated,” but 44.5 percent “declined.”
Part of the reason, she said, is “misinformation,” but others “are concerned about the long-term effects of vaccines that were rushed to market. What will happen six years from now?” they ask.
In one case, a staff member was six-months pregnant and was concerned what impact a vaccine might have on her unborn baby.
A few weeks ago, Center’s Family Council was advised that 91 staff members were unvaccinated; that’s now down to 60, Rinker said. Staff members are tested twice weekly for COVID, and if they test positive are sent home.
Other major institutions in the county no doubt are experiencing similar resistance, as they cannot order employees to get shots.
That’s because the FDA – the federal Food & Drug Administration – approved the Pfizer, Moderna and other vaccines through “Emergency Use Authorization” because of the pandemic. They have not been a fully vetted as they normally would be, Bond said.
Despite the resistance, the county’s overall COVID picture continues to brighten, with shots almost available on demand at SUNY Oneonta’s mass vaccination site at Dewar Arena, as well as clinics being held by the county Health Department and Bassett Health Network. Pharmacies are also offering vaccinations.
As far as people who want vaccinations, “we’re saturated,” Bond said.
The local fatality rate continues to decline since a peak in late February, after the deadliest months of January (17) and February (16).
This week, total deaths reached 56 (from a total 4,106 cases), and only four local people have died in the past seven weeks, according to www.OtsegoCOVID.com. That’s likely due to the vaccinations, particularly of people over 65, the most vulnerable population.
The county fatality rate is now 1.36 percent, significantly lower than the 2.3 percent in Delaware and Chenango counties. The statewide fatality rate is 2.58 percent, according to the New York Times.