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News of Otsego County

pfizer vaccine

Cases Surge; Vaccinations, Too
Hawkeye, Mel’s Closed For Now

Cases Surge; Vaccinations, Too

By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE & LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dr. Lewis Brinton, Fly Creek, Little Falls Hospital ER doctor, receives the first Moderna vaccine administered by Bassett Healthcare Network. Director of Pharmacy Kelly Rudd gives the shot. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

The good news: Residents and staff at Cooperstown Center are receiving the Pfizer vaccine, as have 900 Bassett Healthcare Network employees, who have so far received the Moderna vaccine.

The bad news: Five more people have died from COVID-19 this week, a weekly record, bringing the year-end toll to 17 deaths in the largest spike this month.

“They have all been sick for a while and were all hospitalized,” said Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director.

Three were men, two women, all over age 55, and all had been hospitalized. One of them, said Bond, got sick after being exposed to someone who caught the virus at the Copper Fox in Oneonta.

“This person didn’t go to the bar, but they contracted the disease through secondary spread from someone who did,” she said.

Additionally, cases reached staff members at both Mel’s at 22 and The Otesaga’s Hawkeye Grill, leading to both shutting their doors until after the New Year.

“Until recently, we have been very fortunate that our Mel’s at 22 community has not been affected by COVID-19,” wrote Mel’s owner Brian Wrubleski in a Facebook posting on Christmas Eve.

“Last week one of our servers tested positive,” he continued. “In accordance with the best practices from the Department of Health, we have decided to remain closed until the New Year.

“This will give us time to make sure that all of our team members are safe and healthy before returning to serving you.”

Said Bond, “We don’t require businesses to close if a staff member tests positive for COVID. But we do recommend they close for at least 24 hours for cleaning.”

She was “unaware” of similar restaurant closures elsewhere in the county, although previously, Applebee’s, the Latte Lounge, Red’s Ale House, the Red Jug Pub and the Copper Fox, all in Oneonta, closed temporarily after COVID cases were reported among patrons and staff members.

At Centers, residents and staff began receiving the vaccine on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

“Seventy-six percent of residents received their first vaccine today,” said spokesman Jeffrey Jacomowitz. “We are anticipating all residents that have consented to the vaccine to have both doses by February.”

Walgreen’s is assisting with the vaccine distribution. “Thus far, neither residents nor staff has had any adverse reactions following administration of their vaccine,” he said.

At Bassett, Karen Huxtable-Hooker, Public and Media Relations Director, said that the network is awaiting a “formal invitation” from the state Department of Health to begin using the state’s prioritization schedule for vaccine distribution going forward.

But despite the rapid increase in vaccinations, Bond doesn’t expect cases themselves to decline any time soon.

“Any time now, cases from Christmas gatherings are going to start coming in,” she said. “We’ve already had some people who reported symptoms before the holidays, but gathered anyways.”

Those who have been identified as being in contact with a positive COVID case during the holidays are instructed to quarantine inside their home for 14 days, as they may only be eligible for a test if they begin showing symptoms.

“That means that you do not gather for New Year’s Eve, you do not leave the house for anything,” she said.

STERNBERG: Vaccines, Part II: They Arrive
LETTER from RICHARD STERNBERG

Vaccines, Part II: They Arrive

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

I wish I had the time, stamina, and column inches to write an article daily. That’s how fast the news is coming.

Since last week, Pfizer has begun distribution and vaccinations around the nation, the Moderna vaccine has been approved and it will start distribution by the time you read this, with inoculations going into arms probably by Thursday the 24th.

The 350 Tier One healthcare workers from Bassett Healthcare will have been inoculated, though they all had to travel to either Utica or Elmira to receive the network’s allotted doses, according to a Bassett spokesman. They will get the Pfizer vaccine.

According to the Governor, we can expect more doses in the weeks ahead.

All I want for Christmas is my two vaccines.

There have been some surprises with the roll out. It seems some five dose vials of the Pfizer vaccine actually contain six doses. On the other hand, the logistics have not gone quite as well as we were told to expect. I guess that’s not a surprise.

In the United States, the priority for the order of who gets the vaccine has been announced.

Tier One-A is front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff.

Tier One-B is essential workers.

Tier One-C is high risk individuals which includes those over 60 or 65 depending on their state of residence and those with other risk factors.

After that I am not sure but it seems to be everyone else lumped together. It is not clear when and if minors will get the vaccinations, since they haven’t been tested in those under 16.

There has been some controversy over the 1-B group, not so much if essential workers should get it next, but who is an essential worker.

Overall, there are probably more than 20-30 million people in this category in the United States: police, fire, EMS, teachers, other healthcare workers who interact with the general public, grocery store workers, food processing plant workers, certain other government employees, and many others.

As someone with eight risk factors and counting, I am willing to wait my turn for most of these, but unfortunately there will be some who get moved up the list but probably don’t deserve it.

For example, an attorney friend of mine in New Jersey says they are classified as essential workers.

Shakespeare would definitely not agree. Neither do I. Some yes, but all of them? Corporate attorneys who haven’t been in a courtroom in decades and only represent clients who can pay them more than $500/hour?

There are other vaccines coming out soon. Janssen/ Johnson & Johnson, AstroZenica/Oxford, and Novavax are among those in stage three testing in the USA that may be able to get FDA approval.

China and Russia have both approved their own vaccines and are inoculating people at home and overseas.

The entire United Arab Emirates’ Tour de France winning cycling team has been inoculated with the Chinese Sinopharma vaccine.

Hopefully the vaccines from outside North America and Europe will also generate honest, reproducible data. We need every dose that can be produced that works. There are seven billion people in the world and frankly most of them would benefit by being vaccinated.

In the meantime, we can decrease deaths and slow down progression of the disease with the same simple methods that I have been advocating for nine months. (Yes, it’s that long.) Wear a mask, socially distance, don’t get lackadaisical just because you know some else well.

My god-daughter and her husband both contracted it from their 11-month-old. All are well. We just lost an Otsego citizen who caught COVID from a group home worker who contracted it at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Small group, known people. But someone died because of it. We are so close, people: Stay the course (and any other cliché you can think of).

Merry Christmas and I wish everyone a New Year that at least begins to approach sanity.

VACCINE HERE! 350 Bassett Tier 1 Workers Getting Shots Over Weekend

VACCINE HERE!

350 Bassett Tier 1 Workers

Getting Shots Over Weekend

COOPERSTOWN – The vaccine has arrived!

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, approximately 350 employees in the Bassett Healthcare Network’s Tier One group are traveling to the state-established hub-hospital system in Utica and Elmira (Arnot Ogden Hospital) to receive the network’s allotted doses of the Pfizer vaccine, spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker confirmed a few minutes ago.

Hospital Awaits 1st Vaccine

Hospital Awaits 1st Vaccine

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Rudd

With the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine just days away from a likely approval, Bassett Hospital is prepping to give the first vaccination to one of its healthcare workers as the New Year starts.

“It will be a celebration by our organization,” said Dr. Kelly Rudd, Clinical Pharmacy technician. “It’s a way to celebrate the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

Though 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were shipped across New York State this week, Bassett has opted for the Moderna vaccine, which has similar efficiency against COVID-19, but requires less refrigeration.

“Because it doesn’t need the ultra-cold storage like the Pfizer vaccine, it’s easier to store and transport throughout our region so we can reach more patients in our service area,” said Rudd.

According to news reports, 346,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be distributed by the state Department of Health, the first going to “high risk” hospitals and nursing home patients.

“We submitted our total number of employees to the state,” Rudd said. “We’re not anticipating that the whole supply will come in one shipment, so we’re working on stratification, determining who is in the closest proximity to COVID patients, age, who is at the highest risk with underlying conditions, so we can vaccinate them first.”

The Moderna vaccine, like Pfizer’s, is given in two doses, 28 days apart. “One of the things we have to look at is how to structure those vaccinations,” said Rudd. “If one of our healthcare workers begins showing symptoms, we want to be able to monitor to see if it is because they are sick or if it’s side effects, so we don’t want to vaccinate everyone at once.”

Though not made up of the live COVID virus, the vaccine can cause similar side effects, including fevers, chills and joint pain for a few days after the shot is administered.

After all “high-risk” people are vaccinated, the second tier is “essential” workers, such as county Public Health Director Heidi Bond.
However, it could be several months before the vaccine is ready for the public, Rudd said.

“People need to know that they’re not going to get it for Christmas,” said Dr. Charles Hyman, attending physician, Infectious Diseases.

But when the vaccine is available to the public – Hyman suggests end of April – plans are beginning to form about how to get it out to the public.

“I think it will be a slow roll-out,” said Bond.

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