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January 14, 2021 - 3:14pm

County ready to ramp up COVID vaccine delivery once supply is sufficient

posted by Howard B. Owens in covid-19, coronavirus, news.

Once the supply is available, officials in Genesee County will be ready to distribute 600 COVID-19 vaccine doses a day, three days a week at Genesee Community College, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said this morning during a press briefing.

The question is, though, when will the federal-to-state-to-regional-to-local distribution system be able to deliver that many doses on a weekly basis.

This week, Genesee County received only 300 doses of vaccine.

"The biggest challenge we're going to have is, again, the vaccine coming to us in a reasonable time," Pettit said.

It's a frustration every county in the Finger Lakes region shares, Pettit said. It's hard to say where the bottleneck in delivery is, at the state or federal level, but the vaccines have been produced and are ready for delivery.

Once distribution glitches get worked out, Pettit is hopeful we will have a sufficient and steady supply of the vaccine to meet local vaccination goals.

"I think I think as we go forward, the expectation is they'll get more supply into the system, into the chain, which then we will be able to receive locally," Pettit said. "You're going to have pharmacies, you're going to have providers, you're going to have our public clinics all up and running. Hopefully, the availability at some point will start to balance with the eligibility and the requests and we'll get to where we need to be so that all everybody that wants the vaccine is going to be able to get it."

The process of vaccinating people in the 1A group -- mostly frontline health care workers -- is nearing completion. This week, the governor authorized vaccinations for people in the 1B Group, which includes people 75 and older and people 60 and older with health risks that make them more vulnerable to the disease.

You can't call and get an appointment for the vaccine, however. People who are eligible are being called randomly and offered the chance to receive the vaccine, which is optional.

There are an estimated 13,000 people locally in the 1B group.

"In that 60 to 65 (age) group, you have medically some type of underlying health issue where if you've compromised (you're at risk)," Pettit said. "The state has not put out guidance yet on what that really means as far as who would be eligible under those criteria. As soon as that information comes out, we'll make sure to push that out to everybody. "

Once there is sufficient vaccines available locally, the health department will run clinics at GCC on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays indefinitely.  

The testing sites the department has been running the past few weeks for asymptomatic residents have given staff and volunteers plenty of experience to help them run vaccination clinics efficiently, Pettit said.

Pettit noted that area pharmacies are starting to receive and will soon receive their own supply of vaccines. The pharmacies will operate independently of the health department.

"We're not overseeing that process," Pettit said.

NOTE: Because of unexpected computer issues, we weren't able to livestream the first 30 minutes of the briefing but we did capture most of what Paul Pettit had to say.

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