Kinney Drugs First With Shots
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – There’s “a lot of frustration and confusion” about availability of the COVID-19 vaccinations, Mayor Gary Herzig said this morning, but “I’m told that will improve soon: The vaccine will be coming.”
Meanwhile, he said, be sure to register through the state’s “Am I Eligible” app.
Also today, vaccinations are being administered at Richfield Springs’ Kinney Drug store, apparently the first private pharmacy in the county that’s rolling out the vaccine. One person who received a vaccination said business was “steady” at 10 West Main St.
However, the Gouverneur-based drug-store chain is not accepting any more registrations at the time, pending word of further supplies.
By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As of Monday, Jan. 11, the state gave the go-ahead to expand vaccine appointments to Phase 1b populations – seniors, first responders, corrections officers, teachers and other school staff; in-person college instructors, childcare workers, public facing grocery store workers, transit workers and individuals living and working in homeless shelters.
Also Monday, people 65 and older were folded into Phase 1b; previously, it has been 75 and older.
Phase 1a was focused on healthcare workers. The 1b situation is “fluid,” Kelly Rudd, Bassett Healthcare Network director of pharmaceutical services, said of the many moving parts of the operation.
The implementation of phases ultimately boils down to the prioritization of limited supplies; plus, state and federal guidelines continue to evolve.
“This is an extremely complex national endeavor we are navigating,” said Bassett President/CEO Tommy Ibrahim.
Organizations that will administer the inoculation – some drug stores, for instance – can submit requests for supplies; however, across the country, demands continue to trend higher than the stockpile – lending to the delay in vaccinating at a faster pace on a larger scale particularly in rural communities.
That said, the county Department of Health and other local providers have worked to set up clinics, expanding their vaccinations to include eligible phase 1b individuals.
According to the state website, “People age 65 and over (along with other Phase 1b individuals) will primarily be vaccinated at pharmacies and other sites that are part of the ‘retail network,’” by “appointment only.”
“The COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline is open 7 a.m.-10 p.m., 7 days a week, for scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible New Yorkers: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX 833-697-4829,” according to the website.
Community members are asked to check am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ concerning their eligibility to receive the vaccine in addition to a list of various local clinics and pharmacies to inquire about making an appointment.
Bassett patients are encouraged to setup/use their MyBassett for updates on eligibility and other information as it becomes available to the public in real time.
NEW INFORMATION LINE: 547-4240
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
So far, however, it seems there’s not much to say: “We currently have no vaccine available,” county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said in yesterday’s daily press release. “At this time the department is not able to take appointments over the phone. We are also unable to return voice mails.
By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE & LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.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.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, MAY 6
RABIES CLINIC – 1 – 6 p.m. Free rabies vaccination for cats, dogs, ferrets. Scheduling for 30 minute intervals to follow social distancing. First come, first serve. Susquehanna SPCA, Rt. 28, Cooperstown. 607-547-4230 or visit sqspca.org/sqspca-offering-free-weekly-rabies-clinics-on-first-come-first-served-basis/
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The mother of two 7-year-olds was fearful as this edition went to press Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, that one of her sons would be barred from Cooperstown Elementary School the following morning, even though she believed both boys are vaccinated in accordance with a new state law.
That morning, she had received an email from CCS Superintendent of Schools Bill Crankshaw directing her to remove her children from school for failing to be fully vaccinated.
Amanda Perrault, a Hartwick College graduate who works at Bassett Healthcare and lives in the Town of Hartwick, said she has a religious objection to using vaccines developed from aborted fetal tissue. (The Immunization Action Coalition reports that two cell lines from two legally aborted fetuses in the 1960s are the basis of vaccines for varicella, rubella, hepatitis A and other ailments.)
However, since the state Legislature removed the religious exemption in June, the two children have been undergoing the vaccination regimen, and are due for their final injections Oct. 16. “As far as I understand it,” she said, “it’s affected a lot of families statewide.”
Meanwhile, tests (titers) as recently as Monday, Sept. 30, showed Perrault’s two children are free of any of the feared diseases, and she believes that she is in compliance with all associated provisions of the state Public Health Law.
The email from Crankshaw included “as it was explained to me,” which caused the mother to believe that the superintendent may not understand that her children are compliant and in the process of becoming fully compliant.
Later in the day, she said she met with the elementary principal, Ann Meccariello, and school nurse Kim Stahl and explained that one of her boys is on a schedule of shots that will be complete Oct. 16. A vaccination was administered faultily to her second son, she continued, and cannot be administered again for a set period of time.
Perrault said she recognizes the need for vaccines, and while in high school at Mount Markham participated on a mission to Bolivia to vaccinate children against measles. But raised a Catholic and now a Christian, she withheld vaccinations heretofore because of her religious beliefs.
With her husband Cory fighting cancer and tending babies at home, she has no daycare option if the children can’t go to school, she said.
Reached later Tuesday, Crankshaw said “the general approach is to be compassionate and understanding, but we certainly need to defer to state law and the advice of our medical professionals” – he cited Dr. Phil Haevner, the district medical director, in his email to Perrault – “and our attorneys as well.”