October 27, 2021

Cortland, Tompkins counties see vaccine shortages

Cortland and Tompkins counties won’t schedule any appointments for coronavirus vaccines until they know what their dosage allotment will be from the state.

“That’s what the state is directing us to do,” said Eric Mulvihill, the clerk of the Cortland County Legislature. “We aren’t pre-booking.”

He said the county had requested 2,500 doses for this week, but received only 200.

Tompkins County received no dosages at all this week and elsewhere in the state counties are battling the same issue.

“We are only opening clinics and scheduling appointments once we have vaccine available in our community,” said Frank Kruppa, the Tompkins County health director. “While the state-run mass vaccination clinics are scheduling appointments in advance, the registration system does not allow counties to have this ability. We do expect to receive vaccine next week and the supply will continue to increase. We encourage everyone to remain patient and watch for updates.”

All of this comes as the state recently opened vaccination clinics to anyone over the age of 65, along with the planned phase 1a and 1b essential workers.

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center President Jennifer Yartym said the hospital requested 1,500 doses for this week, while the county health department asked for 1,000.

“Every week we put in requests, kind of like a standing order, with the notion that at least a portion of that would be allocated to each of the facilities,” she said. “In the last two weeks, unfortunately, we haven’t received any allocations of first doses.”

Yartym said the hospital did get second-dose allocations and would distribute those doses today.

Yartym said the hospital administered all of its doses last week. She also said that 70% of the hospital workers have been vaccinated.

“We’ve had some declinations and some that were more of a want to wait and see kind of thing, but overall we’ve captured a majority of our population here at the hospital,” Yartym said.

At the current pace of federal vaccine shipments to New York, it could take six months or more to get shots to the 7 million residents already eligible under federal guidelines, let alone the roughly 12 million other New Yorkers.

The strain on vaccine doses has led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to discuss the possibility of buying directly from the two vaccine manufacturers, although a move like that would need federal approval.

“’That’s not acceptable, so we need to continue to advocate at all levels to increase the availability and the allocations within the state,” Yartym said.

Get vaccine information

  • Call the hotline at 607756-3415
  • Visit the Cortland County Health Department website: www.cortland-co.org/432/Health-Department
  • Visit Tompkins County Health Department Vaccination webpage: tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19vaccine
  • Sign up for email updates: tinyurl.com/y2k8kqcc.
  • Sign up for Swift911 alerts: tinyurl.com/ yyzzcpec.
  • Call 211 (877-211-8667) for vaccine questions and non-medical COVID-19 questions

Yartym said she’s hopeful with the new administration sworn in Wednesday in Washington, D.C. that more vaccines will be on the way. But patience is key.

“We’re ready to go as soon as the vaccine becomes available,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.