November 26, 2021

Cortland County plans vaccine clinics

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center is awaiting COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate people age 75 and older and essential workers, a hospital official said Monday.

Michael Scalzone, chief quality officer for Guthrie, said in a Zoom interview with journalists that its facilities, including Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, were working with the Cortland County Health Department and SUNY

Cortland to begin vaccinations when the doses arrive.

That could be as soon as next week the county announced Monday afternoon.

Cortland County Public Health Director, Lisa Perfetti, expressed her gratitude to the college and to Guthrie for organizing the upcoming clinics.

“As a member of this special community, SUNY Cortland is always eager to help,” SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “During times like these, all segments of the community must collaborate and work together.”

“While Guthrie and its many community partners await the next shipment of vaccine, allotted for phase 1b recipients, plans are being put into place to ensure vaccine clinics run efficiently,” Guthrie announced. “These plans must take into account the amount of vaccine available, staffing and scheduling to ensure vaccinations run smoothly. Guthrie clinics cannot yet provide COVID-19 vaccines to patients, but we will communicate with patients when they are able to schedule their vaccination.”

Scalzone said the hospital has vaccinated about 700 people categorized in Phase 1a by the state, which was primarily healthcare workers. The second of two doses for those people will begin soon, he said.

“We are comfortable that we were able to complete that,” Scalzone said.

Guthrie is ready to vaccinate those categorized as 1b, which includes people age 75 and older and a long list of specific categories of essential workers, he said.

More than 4 million people in the state fall into the 1b category, but no estimate was available for Cortland County, Scalzone said. He said there will be no prioritization of groups within the 1b category, that all who qualify will be considered equally.

The number of vaccine doses that will be available in Cortland County is not yet known, Scalzone said. Appointments will not be taken until the vaccine arrives.

“We have processes in place, we have people ready to go, we have sites identified,” Scalzone said. “It can’t be a free-for-all. We will be partnering with different groups.”

Pharmacies, some county health departments and doctors’ offices plan to join, he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that SUNY and CUNY colleges will participate in the distribution of the vaccine and Scalzone said the hospital was ready to work with SUNY Cortland.

Scalzone said it will take months to complete the vaccinations and he urged people to continue to take safety precautions: Wear masks, wash your hands, stay 6 feet apart.

“If we relax too early, it will stress the hospital system,” he said.

Scalzone said he believes the vaccine is safe.

“I have full confidence that this vaccine was not rushed,” he said. “I will encourage people to take it. It’s best to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”


What others are doing

Cayuga County The Cayuga County Health Department has received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and a vaccination clinic was scheduled for today, limited to Phase 1a patients and law enforcement personnel and teachers from Phase 1b.

To make an appointment, which is required, go to www.cayugacounty.us/health and click the COVID-19 vaccination clinic button. You will need to bring proof of identity and eligibility: an employee ID card; a letter from an employer or affiliated organization; or a pay stub. Have your New York driver’s license with you.

Tompkins County

The Tompkins County Health Department’s clinic to begin Phase 1b vaccinations Monday was full, but the county said it will prioritize teachers and education workers; first responders; public safety workers; public transit workers and people 75 and older.

People can sign up for email updates at https://forms.gle/CkiAuVWa9hjTfnFt5. More than 2,100 people have been vaccinated so far in Tompkins County.

See if you’re eligible

Go to am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/.