October 16, 2021

Transportation for vaccinations

County health officials work to help people get to their appointments

Associated Press

A nurse administers the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 3 at a pop-up vaccination site at a church in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

Tompkins and Cortland counties are working on ways to provide transportation for people who have coronavirus vaccine appointments, officials said.

“Transportation options have not all been finalized, but our transportation partners are working on methods of getting to appointments,” said Dominick Recciko, the communications director for Tompkins County administration. “Locally, folks can call 2-1-1 to inquire about transportation options.”

Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson (D-Dryden) said the county is trying to do everything in its power to ensure everyone in the community can be vaccinated, regardless of barriers they may face.

“COVID-19 has had such disparate impacts, with people of color and lower-income communities being more severely impacted,” Robertson said. “If we can help remove any transportation issues that might be keeping someone from getting a vaccination, we want to do that — as we’ve done with access to COVID testing. Understanding that at the moment the limiting factor is supply of the vaccines themselves, we need to be prepared for the time when we have more doses available.”

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center President Jennifer Yartym said the hospital doesn’t have any plans for a mobile vaccination clinic either.

“At this point, we are not planning a mobile clinic,” Yartym said in an email. “The governor has made it clear that hospitals are only to be vaccinating the essential worker population.”

County health departments have been tasked with vaccinating the 1b population. The state has asked people 65 and older to either go to pharmacies or state-run vaccination sites, the closest of which are in Syracuse and Binghamton.

Cortland County Legislature Chairman Paul Heider (R-Cuyler, Solon, Truxton) said Cortland is also working on a plan, but provided no details. However, he also said that it isn’t just about having transportation, but actually having vaccines available to distribute.

The county has vaccinated more than 300 people so far.

The county has set up a vaccination site at the ice rink at Park Center on SUNY Cortland’s campus. After that, people could go to state-run sites. However, the closest would be the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, a more than 40-minute drive. After that, the next closest state-run site is at Binghamton University — more than an hour away.

Oswego County, which is part of the Central New York Region, has been providing rides for its residents to vaccine appointments since late January.