By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – When the COVID-19 vaccine is available, Otsego County will be ready.
“Before the pharmacies could give the flu shot, we used to do a lot of the vaccinations,” said Heidi Bond, county public health director. “We are well aware of what needs to be done when we go into communities that may not have a lot of options for vaccinations.”
With the announcement that Pfizer, whose vaccine reportedly has a 90-percent rate of effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, is applying for “Emergency Use” by the Food & Drug Administration, Bond hopes healthcare workers and first responders could start receiving it as soon as mid-December.
“Front-line workers will be prioritized,” said Bond. “That includes healthcare workers and EMTs.”
And Pfizer isn’t the only trial that’s showing success.
Moderna’s vaccine was reported to have 95-percent efficiency, according to NPR, and the AP reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine,had also shown 90-percent efficiency and, unlike the other two, only required one shot.
In addition to the county Health Department, CVS pharmacies in Cooperstown and Sidney, and Kinney Drugs in Richfield Springs have stepped forward to offer their services in administering the vaccine.
“We’re excited to be part of the community effort to vaccinate against COVID,” said Autumn Koniowka,
pharmacy manager, Cooperstown CVS. “As soon as there is more information made available publically, we’ll start letting people know about the process.”
“When vaccines are authorized and made available to the general public, Kinney pharmacists will be able to administer them following federal vaccine prioritization guidelines,” said Rebecca Bubel, R.Ph. Kinney Drugs president, in a statement. “As we have since 1903, our employee-owners remain 100-percent committed to supporting our communities on the front lines. By working together, we can help bring this pandemic under control.”
Appointments would be scheduled in a similar fashion to their current program, with appointments made online or by calling the pharmacy.
In Oneonta, Walgreens, which has three locations in the city and town, has not indicated whether or not they will offer the vaccine, although they do offer flu and shingles vaccines.
Community partners are critical, said Bond, because otherwise, the Health Department staff could be
“We may find ourselves trying to prioritize between contact tracing and vaccinations,” she said.
But with the right resources, including the Health Depart-ment staff, supplemented by volunteers and nursing students, the whole county population – all 59,493 of us – could be vaccinated in three to five days.
The vaccine will be free, although providers may bill a patient’s insurance. Those without insurance will be covered by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund, according to the Center for Disease Control.
But it could still be “3-4 months,” warns Bond, before the general population can line up to get their shot, and much of that depends on how much of the vaccine is sent to the county at a time.
“The earliest I see it available to the general population is March or April,” she said.