Following historic development, research, and vetting processes, vaccine is available for COVID-19 and has begun to be distributed to healthcare professionals in Tompkins County. The Health Department, in partnership with Cayuga Health System, has been planning for distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and Cayuga Health System started immunizing individuals on December 21, 2020. Vaccine supply is now available in Tompkins County and the Health Department is providing updates about the importance of getting the vaccine to keep our community safe and information about how you will know when you can receive the vaccine.
“We are urging everyone in our community to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as it becomes available. It is important for everyone who is medically able to receive the vaccine to get it to achieve enough immunity in our community to stop the pandemic and protect yourself and loved ones. Herd immunity or community immunity means a high percentage of people – at least 70% of the population – are vaccinated and their immunity will stop the virus from spreading, as well as protect those who are unable to get the vaccine. We are encouraging 100% of those who are able, to get vaccinated,” stated Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director.
The vaccine is becoming available in phases determined by New York State (NYS). The phases are outlined on the Health Department website and more information is available on the NYS Department of Health website. The high-risk priority population groups include hospital workers, nursing home residents and staff, EMS workers, coroners and other funeral workers, staff and residents at facilities licensed by NYS OPWDD (Office for People with Developmental Disabilities), OMH (Office of Mental Health), and OASAS (Office of Addiction Services and Supports).
“We have seen the devastating effect of this virus on our high-risk population, especially seniors residing in nursing homes. Some of our local nursing homes have already received vaccine administered by the State. Similar to monitoring any positive cases in nursing homes, the State will oversee the vaccination program for long-term care facilities,” stated Kruppa.
The available COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – require two shots over a three-week and four-week period respectively. During the vaccination process, everyone must continue to take precautions like wearing a mask, washing hands, and maintaining distance from others. It is possible for people to contract and test positive for COVID-19 even after this first dose of the vaccine. The vaccine will not cause a positive test result. The second dose is critical to ensure full protection from the virus.
“The clinical trials for the vaccines demonstrate their effectiveness and that the vaccine will help protect you and your family. The trials report that some people feel tired or mild muscle soreness after they get the shot, similar to how you might feel after a flu shot. This is the body’s immune response being activated and a sign that the vaccine is starting to work. No serious side effects have been reported,” stated Kruppa.
“We understand that there may be individuals who are hesitant to receive the vaccine at this time. While we are currently in the emergency use authorization phase of these vaccines, every study and trial was reviewed by the FDA and an additional safety board. I commend my medical colleagues who have already been vaccinated and I plan to get the vaccine when it is available,” continued Kruppa.
Cayuga Health System is the lead vaccine administrator in our community and the Health Department is partnering with them to ensure effective distribution of the vaccine. CHS began administering vaccine to frontline healthcare workers and had their first open vaccination clinic on Tuesday, December 29 for the high-risk priority population groups listed above.
“Cayuga Health System has continued to be a great partner since the beginning of the pandemic when they first stepped up with the Mass Sampling Site and now with vaccination distribution to ensure our community is protected and can return to normal. The first large-scale vaccination clinic was held at the old Sears building at the Mall and was very targeted to the priority population groups. 390 people were vaccinated at the clinic yesterday. Starting next week, the vaccine eligibility will expand to all healthcare workers and will continue to broaden to the general population over the next few weeks. We ask the public to continue being patient and follow our updates so you know when to get your vaccine,” stated Kruppa.
Join Tompkins County Officials and Cayuga Health System CEO Dr. Martin Stallone for a virtual COVID-19 Town Hall on Wednesday, January 6 at 4:00pm. The Town Hall will be streamed live to YouTube, members of the public can submit questions for the panelists to Dominick Recckio, Tompkins County Communications Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check the Tompkins County Health Department website for updates and follow social media – more announcements will be made about upcoming clinics.
For local updates and information, check the TCHD website.
Individuals who travel to or from a non-contiguous state must quarantine for a period of 10 days when entering New York or follow the travel-related testing guidelines. More information about the travel-related testing guidelines can be found on the NYS Travel Advisory webpage. For more information about how to quarantine, refer to the TCHD website.
Everyone can continue to take these steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community:
- Refrain from non-essential travel.
- Keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others when in public.
- Wear a mask at all times in public spaces, especially when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Masks and face coverings must be worn by everyone over age 2 at all times in public places when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. Fines are enforceable for individuals who are in violation of these regulations. Businesses must deny entry to anyone who is not wearing a face covering.
- Non-essential gatherings are limited to 50 people for our region, but must comply with distancing and face covering guidance. Non-essential gatherings in private residences, indoor or outdoor, are limited to 10 people or less.
- Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close and continued contact with other people not in your household.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
To file a complaint about a business or social gathering go to the TCHD website.
The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.