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covid-19 vaccine

September 29, 2022 - 10:14pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine, news.

Press release:

Public health officials are encouraging eligible residents in the Finger Lakes region to get vaccinated with the updated booster shot against COVID-19. The CDC recently approved reformulated booster shots to further protect against the disease.

According to CDC guidelines, people ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive an updated booster two months after their last COVID-19 dose — either since their last booster shot or since completing their initial two vaccine doses.

  • Pfizer’s updated booster dose is recommended for individuals 12 and older.
  • Moderna’s updated booster dose is recommended for adults 18 and older.
  • Anyone can get either the Pfizer or Moderna booster, regardless of the manufacturer of their previous vaccines.

The CDC suggests that people who had COVID-19 recently may consider waiting three months from the start of their symptoms or a positive test before getting the updated booster shot.

Linda Clark, Chief Medical Officer at Common Ground Health, said, “With COVID-19 variants continuing to persist and with flu season approaching, it is important that people stay up to date with their vaccinations. Everyone who is eligible should get the updated booster this fall for maximum protection against the disease, and people can get the booster shot the same day as their flu shot.”

These new booster doses contain an updated bivalent formula that protects against the newer Omicron variants and against the original Coronavirus. The updated bivalent formula is not for initial vaccination; it is for use only for COVID-19 booster doses.

People who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines should talk to their physician or visit http://www.getyouranswers.org.

April 30, 2022 - 5:50pm

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Parents may have questions now that Moderna has requested the emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine for children under six years old.

Dr. Tracy Maier, a pediatrician with Rochester Regional Health’s Penn Fair Pediatric Group, has some answers, she says. Bottom line is that it could help, Maier said during a Zoom meeting with members of the media this week.

“It would be just one more implement in our defense against COVID,” she said. “Clearly, COVID is not going to go away, and we’ve proven that the best way to prevent the spread is to get vaccinated and to wear masks.”

“Traditionally, our population under age two has not been masking, so they are exposed, and our two- to five-year-olds are masking, if they tolerate it,” she said. “This is just one more line of defense against COVID.”

As many adults have experienced, masks, in general, have been dropped in lieu of getting vaccinations, loosened mandates and/or a belief that the imminent danger is gone. Though Genesee County’s data hasn’t exactly supported that notion. Latest statistics have shown an uptick in cases, with 168 new positive COVID-19 cases from April 13 to 19, and 278 cases from April 20 to 26. There have been a total of 185 deaths reported due to the virus as of April 25. 

Ages 0 to 19 had dipped from April 6 to 13 and then began to rise again toward the end of the month, coinciding with an increase of positives from the 60+ group, according to the Genesee Orleans Department of Health website. 

So does that mean that parents should line up to get their four-year-old a shot? Don’t just take Maier’s advice, she said. Have a talk with your child’s pediatrician. Ask questions, such as what are the benefits, the risks, and if there is anything parents should consider as unique to their child’s circumstances that make a vaccine more or less important to their health. 

Other questions may be what are the long-term effects? What difference will it make to my child with the vaccine versus not getting one, Maier said. For those in-between situations where, say, a child is under five and a parent is wondering whether to get the vaccine, “it depends on the circumstances,” she said. 

“If the child is at high risk because they have an underlying medical condition, I’d say let’s go ahead with this when it’s approved for your age group,” she said. “If not, I’d say, let’s wait until the age that we know when it’s effective.” 

Moderna’s request for emergency use, if approved, would make it the first vaccine for children under five. There are 18 million such children in the United States currently not eligible to receive a vaccine, she said. 

Despite lessened vigilance about wearing a mask, getting a vaccination “is still very important at this phase,” she said. 

“COVID is a virus, and we know from looking at other viruses (influenza) that viruses mutate and it’s going to mutate quickly,” she said. “And we know that vaccine is one of the greatest things that we have in our defense of this virus … to continue with our daily lives as usual. Once you are vaccinated, once you have been exposed and don’t have any symptoms, you can go on about your lives … children can still go to school, and they can still go to daycare (if no symptoms). It allows life to continue on as it normally would.”

This week Moderna, a biotechnology company pioneering “messenger RNA” therapeutics and vaccines, announced that it submitted a request for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in children six months to under two years, and two years to under six years of age. The request has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval. The FDA has 30 days for the approval process.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, if the FDA does approve the vaccine, it will continue to oversee its production to "ensure continuing safety." Monitoring of the vaccine and production, including periodic facility inspections, must continue as long as the manufacturer holds a license for the vaccine product.

Dr. Tracy Maier is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Penn Fair Pediatric Group in Penfield. 
 

November 22, 2021 - 8:49pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, County Legislature, Kathy Hochul, covid-19 vaccine.

Image result for nysacRural counties in New York State currently have Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ear concerning the pressing issues of the day, Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said today, and the possibility of vaccine mandates is at the top of the list.

“There is a big consensus among, especially the more rural counties, what we want to communicate to the governor,” Landers said at the Genesee County Legislature meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “And we are pleased that the governor, in a phone call last evening … for county administrators and decision-makers and the governor's office .. is trying to make an effort to at least listen to the viewpoints of counties, which was something that the previous governor wasn’t doing.”

Landers said rural county leaders are “looking for less mandates, less restrictions – not the other way around.”

“We understand that it's going be difficult, but those are some of the takeaways that the county administrators in more rural counties are looking for moving forward, and less of a hammer,” he said.

County officials need more testing resources, he said.

“That's one thing that in order for us to comply with -- or are trying to dig ourselves out; having more testing resources is critical. And we are sorely lacking in a testing resources,”

He also said the state needs to put out more positive messaging, with a focus on help and communicating success stories.

“We’d like to see an endgame laid out,” Landers said. “I know that our schools are asking for this. County administrators are asking for this. What does success look like? We’d like to have an endgame laid out and a greater focus on hospitalizations and less on just straight (COVID-19) positives.”

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein added that counties are dead set against a possible state mandate “being overlaid onto rural counties.”

“That raised some ire,” she said.

Landers said state officials are looking at New York City’s low positivity rates, which have come as (partially) as a result of vaccine mandates, and could use that model for upstate counties.

“Leaders are pointing to the fact that they have vaccine mandates in place if you want to go to dining establishments and things like that, so that that comparison was provided to us,” he said. “And it's something that if our hospitalization rates don't improve then everything's on the table, even something like that.”

Landers also mentioned the situation in Erie County, which announced today that a mask mandate for all indoor public locations will start Tuesday at 6 a.m.

Rural county administrators think mandates do more harm than good, he said, and Stein agreed, adding that if mandates are required, then New York State should be responsible for enforcement.

“We also asked for the fact that if these mandates came down, that the enforcement is not something that is pushed down onto the county government but it is held at the state level,” she said. “And that's where the responsibility lies. That was very clear in that conversation.”

Landers said the ability to enforce has to be clear as well.

“If left open to local interpretation, it's not going to be effective. The enforcement, the ability, the right, the law, whatever you want to say, (needs to be) clear cut and able to be enforced and the state has to provide resources on the enforcement side.”

Turning to resolutions, as expected, the legislature adopted the county’s 2022 budget – a $158,502,898 All Funds spending plan that keeps the property tax levy the same as the 2021 budget.

The 2022 General Fund (operating) budget is set at $119,394,176, about $9.1 million more than the 2021 budget.

By keeping the same tax levy, the property tax rate falls from $9.80 to $9.18 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This was accomplished by using an additional $680,000 in unexpended reserves than originally proposed.

In other action, the legislature approved:

  • Revision of Local Law Introductory No. 6, which changes the Genesee County Hotel and Motel Occupancy Tax Law to include Airbnb-type short-term lodging sites.

Landers commended County Attorney Kevin Earl for his efforts to close any “loopholes: and to “clean up” the wording of the law, which was supported by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. Key revisions reduced the number of units from six to one and stipulate that the property would have to be rented out for more than 14 days in a year.

Short-term sites such as Airbnb now will be subject to the 3 percent “bed tax” that is added on to hotel/motel bills.

  • Funding five capital improvement projects as Genesee Community College – four next year and one in 2023 – at a maximum cost of $1.7 million as long as New York State commits the same amount.
  • Holding a public hearing on Dec. 8 to consider a local law to set the salaries of the following county elected or appointed fixed term employees: Commission of Elections, Director of Human Resources, Commissioner of Social Services, Director of Real Property Tax Services, County Clerk, Treasurer, Sheriff, and Highway Superintendent.
  • Reappointing Molly Haungs, marketing manager of LandPro Equipment, to a two-year term on the GLOW Workforce Development Board and James Kingston of Elba to a two-year term to the Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District board of directors.
August 23, 2021 - 1:12pm

In a major announcement today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting the approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine – the vaccine known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

It now will be marketed as Comirnaty for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

In response to this news, Edward E. Walsh, M.D., head of Infectious Diseases at Rochester General Hospital, and Ann Falsey, M.D., professor of Infectious Diseases and co-director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at URMC and RRH Infectious Disease Physician, took questions from media members via a Zoom call at noon.

Following is that question-and-answer session:

Q. How does this process work exactly to get to this decision made by the FDA? What does it take to get full approval?

A. Walsh: Essentially, it is to collect longer timeframe for safety data, as well as increased amount of data on efficacy. The EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) was approved essentially after 2 ½ months and this is with data that was submitted in June, so it includes data out to six months and it’s that kind of longer-term data that is required for full approval.

Q. Do you believe that this will change public confidence in people who are hesitant in getting the shot, and explain what Rochester Regional (Health) is really hoping that this could change for public perception … to show that vaccine really works now?

A. Walsh: I think for some people this may be important. It’s not clear at this point if it will come to pass that a significant number of people who are hesitant to get vaccinated will now do so. There have been surveys done … which suggest that there is a significant number of people who have been hesitant will step forward now that it has received full approval. But will have to wait and see if that actually happens.

The second aspect of this is that apparently this will make it a lot easier for organizations, including the healthcare organizations, to mandate vaccination as a requirement for working. Which is a very controversial and much debated in public spaces position. It apparently will allow that to move forward more easily.

Q. What do you see as the fallout to that (noting there is a small, vocal group of healthcare workers that said they won’t get the vaccine?

A. We’ve already seen that happen in certain institutions that have made it mandatory to be vaccinated, even during the period in which it was covered by the EUA. I imagine that there will be somewhat similar vocal outcry by some individuals and possibly groups. We’ll just have to see.

I can tell you that in the past, with influenza vaccine mandates this has been a struggle prior to potentially mandating flu vaccines in healthcare environments. Only about 75 percent of people would become vaccinated each year; once it was mandated, we now exceed 90 percent, often reaching 95 percent. So, it may allow us to move forward.

Q. (Could you address) the hesitancy of some folks, who say I’d like to see this get approved by the FDA, and now were at that point?

A. Falsey: “Basically the proof is in the pudding; We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I, took, have had numerous conversations with vaccine-hesitant people, and some raise very reasonable concerns that it’s a brand new vaccine (that) came along very rapidly and want to see more data and the FDA fully approved it. I, personally, might say I don’t think you’re assessing risk/benefit properly (but) those are reasonable concerns from reasonable people.

But, I do hope that this approval and this review of this safety data, will will give them the confidence to get what is a safe vaccine and get themselves protected.

Q. How does this approval help public confidence … for some of those people who were on the fence?

A. Falsey: I hope it will help a lot. There are some people who are anti-vaccine, and no matter what the FDA does they won’t trust it or believe it. But there is a group of people … who are just nervous and this is the reassurance that they will need. I hope it goes a long way.

Walsh; I would echo that hope that it does go a long way. I think people need to realize that these vaccines were scrutinized by a very large number of individuals and coming from different backgrounds to assess their safety. This discussions that take place are very long, they review an enormous amount of data. One thing that people should realize that following rollout vaccine in late November, essentially early December, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has been very meticulous in tracking side effects now for essentially nine months. And they have been able to uncover any of the concerns than anyone would have with these vaccines. So, … it’s including data that extends out nine months to the general public and for a year we are now seeing in our vaccine study here at RGH (Rochester General Hospital) with the Pfizer vaccine group … we’re seeing the now out at a year.

Q. Do you foresee that Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (approval) will be coming up soon?

A. Falsey: For a full licensure, you do need six months of safety data. Moderna had its EUA shortly after Pfizer, so I would think they would be next up to become fully approved … J&J will take a little bit longer.

Q. Is this a normal timeframe for vaccines to be approved or was this hastily done?

A. Falsey: It was sped up quite a bit, but no steps were not done. All the phases, all the safety were done, it’s just that it was a huge public health crises and everyone was working non-stop. Things were done rapidly,

Walsh: The preliminary scientific basis for this vaccine was developed over 10 years prior to the pandemic. That’s an enormous amount of work that normally is rolled into how long it takes to make a vaccine. That whole process was done prior to the pandemic even starting; it was a real head start here.

The process of going through Phase 1, Phase 2 and then Phase 3 trials was speeded up but iwas primarily in the Phase 1 period which normally would take from six months to perhaps even a year. Through a very safe mechanism, you can make those go faster; because of the pandemic, they had to. As far as the Phase 3 study goes, because of the pandemic, the decision was to monitor the effectiveness of this vaccine – and all of the vaccines -- in real time rather than to simply say, ‘Let’s just analyze this data at the end of the year.’ They said, ‘Let’s analyze this data week by week to see how long it would take to demonstrate efficacy.’ And when you demonstrate 95 percent efficacy against all infection and 100 percent against severe disease at 2 ½ months, you have data that says, ‘Let’s move this forward in the face of a pandemic killing .. over 500,000 people.

Q. As far as efficacy against the Delta variant, some studies show that Moderna has a stronger efficacy than the Pfizer. Is this just a timeframe thing that Pfizer is being approved before Moderna?

A. Falsey: “I’m not specifically aware of which study you are discussing. A lot of the global data that looks at real world effectiveness of these vaccines as we look through the different variants, they all look very effective against severe disease and death … The full approval process really has more to do with safety. So, Pfizer finished their study and applied for EUA, and had a little bit of a jump there, and that’s why they have six months of safety data first, and they received their full licensure. I am sure Moderna will be along quickly.

Walsh: … for six months we’ve seen the data, and the efficacy seems to be very similar. Real world data from various states in U.S., suggested that the Moderna vaccine was holding up a little bit better than the Pfizer vaccine, but not in terms of hospitalization, severe disease and mortality. It had to do with whether or not a minor or mild infection would occur. And these are relatively small studies …

One of the problems with collecting data in the real world as opposed to an actual study, where you’re monitoring every person, is that it really requires people to come forward with minor illnesses and mild illnesses, and it also requires states to report all their illnesses, for instance, hospitalizations, mortality, and that is not always done. So, it’s a little difficult at times. I think at this point, I’d argue that there’s probably not much difference between these two vaccines in terms of their benefit.

Q. Do you hear from their patients that this is something that they care about – about FDA approval?

A. Falsey: From a select few. The majority of patients either fall into the category of vaccine enthusiasts versus … those who just aren’t going to get it. But, there are a group of people that this a step that gives them confidence. They are worried that these are new vaccines and they want full approval and review by the FDA. There are people that this is meaningful.

Q. How instrumental was URMC and Rochester Regional was in the studies for Pfizer?

A. Walsh: This town – URMC (University of Rochester Medical Center) and RRH -- provided Rochester the opportunity to really participate in cutting edge of development of the Pfizer vaccine … and also work locally with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well as the Astrazeneca vaccine and the concept of mixing different vaccine strategies with different vaccines.

So, Rochester, the University and RRH have contributed an enormous amount of effort to push this forward. In a certain sense, I will say that among the infectious disease community, to a large extent, … it was essentially like getting drafted into the army. We had to stop doing all of the normal things that we do and focus on essentially one disease and one illness.

Q. What regulations did this vaccine exactly have to pass … to be fully approved by the FDA?

A. Walsh: I can’t give you every detail that is required … I’ve not sat through committees that go through this process. But, as I mentioned before, it requires full vetting from all of the data from study subjects – and there are 42,000 of them in Phase 3 study. If you looked at all the data from those as well as the data from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, which were much smaller, I think specifically, looking at safety data. In addition, they do have access to all of the safety data that has been developed after the EUA rollout in December. That information is dependent upon individual reporting, whether it be physician or people in the community who have been vaccinated. Whereas the study subject data of 42,000 individuals, that data is very meticulously collected … very granular, very detailed and highly scrutinized.

Q. Why do you believe it wasn’t approved fully for those 12-15 (years old)?

A. Walsh: Again, this has to do with timing. The data for 16 and up, or 17-18 and up was part of that first phase of the Phase 3 studies were once that starts moving, they went into 12-16 groups, so that is somewhat behind so we don’t have the data yet … to be fully approved.

Q. What do you think this says for the future of mRNA technology?

A. Walsh: I think it opens up opportunities in many areas where we have been unsuccessful in developing vaccines. There are many diseases that we do not have effective vaccines, or have not event attempted to look into the possibility of vaccines -- especially for viruses, It also opens up the possibility of an effective strategy to improve our existing vaccines, such as influenza. In good years, we’re happy to see 50 percent effectiveness … If we could get very high degree of efficacy it could really do a lot of public health good. I think you can make the same argument for a lot of diseases for which we really haven’t pushed hard for vaccines.

This technology may be very effective. And those studies will be slowly starting … we’re obviously still mired down in the pandemic and the problems with that issue. Boost the doses, and the variants of coronavirus that may arise and have to be dealt with. At some point, this technology will be applied to other vaccines.

---------------

Update: 4 p.m. in response to comment below:

Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have total immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines. And, although the vaccines have been approved by the FDA, people can't sue that government agency as it has what is known as "sovereign immunity."

May 28, 2021 - 4:51pm

Press release:

GO Health Departments will be on the road with Pop-up Clinics. The Pfizer vaccine is approved to vaccinate anyone 12 years old and older against coronavirus. All clinics are now available for walk-in and registration.  

“The Pop-up Clinics are a great way for our residents to conveniently get vaccinated," said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health. "The clinics have been running very smoothly and residents seem happy that they don’t have to travel very far to get their vaccination.”

Pfizer, J & J and Moderna clinics offer walk-in opportunities; however, we encourage you to register via the links below and choose the vaccine that best works for you to guarantee your dose, better space your appointment time, and make your check-in process easier. 

For those who do not have internet they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:  

  • Genesee:  (585) 815-7168
  • Orleans:  (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-related questions, and are not associated with either Health Department.  

“This is a great opportunity for more people to get vaccinated and will help us enjoy activities this summer with fewer restrictions,” Pettit said. “There continue to be plenty of options to get any of the three vaccines offered.”

If you are a business/church/organization that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the survey:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOHealthPopUpVaccineClinicOne of our staff members will be in contact with you.

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments.

For Genesee County, a free rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for Thursday, June 3rd from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main St. Road, Batavia. To register for testing for the Genesee Test Clinic: http://bit.ly/GeneseeTests.

For Orleans County, a free rapid test clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, June 2nd from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion. To register for the Orleans Test Clinic: https://bit.ly/OCHDRapidTest.

Tuesday, June 1 

1-5 p.m.

Six Flags Darien Lake / Human Resources -- 1501 Sumner Road, Corfu

J&J: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/JanssenDarienLake

Wednesday, June 2

1-4:30 p.m.

Genesee County Health Department -- 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia

Moderna: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/Moderna1Genesee

J&J: Walk-ins & Appointment

http://bit.ly/JanssenGenesee

Thursday, June 3

4-6 p.m.

Orleans County YMCA -- 306 Pearl St., Medina

Pfizer: Walk-ins and Appointment

http://bit.ly/OrleansYMCAPfizer

J&J: Walk-ins 

Saturday, June 5 

12-1 p.m.

Genesee County Health Department, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia

Pfizer: Walk-ins and Appointment

http://bit.ly/Pfizer1Genesee

May 3, 2021 - 11:00am
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine, immunization clinic, news, GO Health, GCC.

Press release:

This week the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have "One & Done" single dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen (J&J) vaccination clinics with appointments and walk-ins available targeting those who are 18 and older and open for any New York State individuals, who reside, work or study in the state.

“With proms, graduations, weddings, fairs, etc., getting the J&J vaccine now means that two weeks after the date of your shot you are considered fully vaccinated,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“It takes more planning to get the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they are two doses and it will take two weeks following the second dose to be fully vaccinated, which would be 5-6 more weeks before you can participate in large events without the time and expense of testing.

"To learn more about the safety of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine please visit the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). We encourage everyone to talk with their primary care provider if they have concerns about any of the vaccines. With the options we currently have we continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated with the vaccine they are comfortable receiving.”

All clinics offer walk-in opportunities; however, we encourage you to register via the vaccination webpage or use the vaccine registration help lines below, and choose the appropriate J&J link.

  • The GCC clinic is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5th from 9 – 11 a.m.  
  • Special Clinic -- Genesee County Office for the Aging, Downtown Batavia is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5th from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. 
  • The Ridgeway Fire Hall clinic is scheduled for Thursday, May 6th from 9 – 11 a.m. 
  • Special Clinic -- Orleans County Health Department is scheduled for Friday, May 7th from 10 a.m. – noon.

For those who do not have internet, they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:  

  • Genesee:  (585) 815-7168
  • Orleans:  (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-19-related questions, and are not associated with either health department.  

“We continue to see positive cases in unvaccinated individuals and it will continue as we work toward getting more of our population vaccinated,” Pettit said. “There are plenty of options to get any of the three vaccines offered. For your health and the health of others we encourage everyone who is able to be vaccinated to get vaccinated now.”

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!  

If you are a business/church/organization that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the surveyOne of our staff members will be in contact with you.

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective health departments. For Genesee County, a rapid test drive-through clinic is scheduled for May 6th at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. For Orleans County, a rapid test clinic is scheduled for May 5th at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion.

To register for testing go to the GO Health testing page and choose your preferred clinic location.

April 26, 2021 - 4:36pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19 vaccine, GO Health, COVID-19, vaccination clinics, news.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) have first-dose Moderna vaccination clinics with appointments available targeting those who are 18 and older and open for any New York State individuals who reside, work or study in the state.

“We have first-dose Moderna vaccination clinics scheduled on Tuesday, April 27th at the Ridgeway Fire Hall, Route 104, Medina; and on Wednesday, April 28th at the Athletic Center at Genesee Communiyt College Batavia Campus Center,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for GO Health.

“These clinics are open to anyone who is 18 and older. We want to see all of these clinics filled up with those who can also commit to returning for the second dose of the Moderna vaccine 28 days later."

Walk-ins will be accepted at both clinics from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Currently in New York, being fully vaccinated will begin to offer opportunities that have been limited for the past year. Anyone who is fully vaccinated (two weeks after the J&J vaccine or the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna) will be able to participate in various activities without having to be tested for entry for events such as professional sports, weddings with more than 100 guests, proms, graduations and more.

Also, when fully vaccinated, the individual will not have to quarantine if they are exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Most importantly, you are protecting your health along with others you come in contact with.  

Visit the vaccination webpage at https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccine. Choose either the GCC Moderna Clinic or the Orleans Moderna Clinic button and follow the directions. Keep the link handy, as there will be other clinics moving forward.

The buttons are live when we have that particular vaccine available. If the clinic is full or we do not have vaccine, it will show "No Appointments Available." Please share this information with family, friends, coworkers and social groups.

For those who do not have internet they can call the GO Health Vaccine Registration Help Lines:

Genesee: (585) 815-7168

Orleans: (585) 589-3170

These lines are ONLY to make vaccine appointments, are not able to answer COVID-19-related questions AND are not associated with either Health Department.

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!

If you are a business/organization, have 50 or more people that is interested in hosting a vaccination clinic at your location, please fill out the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GOHealthPopUpVaccineClinic

For those who are seeking testing, both health departments provide limited free rapid testing for those without symptoms at the respective Health Departments. For Genesee County, rapid test drive-through clinics are scheduled for April 27th and 29th at County Building #2, 3837 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. For Orleans County, rapid test clinics are scheduled for April 28th and 30th at the Orleans County Health Department at 14016 Route 31 West, Albion.

To register for testing go to the GO Health testing page: https://orleanscountyny.org/covid19testing/ and choose your preferred clinic location. Follow the directions.

April 5, 2021 - 9:15pm

Starting Tuesday, all New York residents 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – a major breakthrough coming a full year after the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

But, according to Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, this development doesn’t negate the fact that less than a third of Genesee County citizens has been vaccinated.

“Only 31 percent of the county (has received the vaccine),” Pettit said at this afternoon’s Genesee County Legislature Human Services Committee meeting at the Old County Courthouse. “We’re lagging behind the rest of New York State and the Finger Lakes Region, but we’re closing that gap.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that beginning tomorrow, 16- and 17-year-olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 and older will be eligible to take the Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna shot.

Pettit said he expects Tuesday to be a “big day” with the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (for those 18 and over) scheduled to be administered from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Genesee Community College. As of 8:30 this evening, 18 appointments were available.

For more information, go to the GO Health website at G O Health COVID-19 Vaccination Schedule and Guidance – Orleans County Government (orleanscountyny.com).

The health director also said that the virus’ positivity rate in the county is “picking up a little bit, which is not unexpected.” He said the rate is at 2 percent in the Finger Lakes Region, up from 1.5 percent a couple of weeks ago.

He also noted that other strains of the coronavirus have been identified in Western New York – leading to more infections – and officials are seeing an increase in those in their 30s and 40s.

“Again, not unexpected as we have concentrated on vaccinating seniors,” Pettit said. “Once we focus on them (younger people), we will see those numbers go down. But there are still a lot of unvaccinated people.”

He continues to urge folks to wear face coverings and practice social distancing.

“Keep vigilant … stay the course,” he said, adding that all three vaccines have been proven to be effective in preventing the virus, reducing symptoms for those who do get it and, “most importantly, the vaccine prevents death.”

When asked about the Excelsior Pass, an app that enables people to prove that they have been vaccinated, Pettit said determining its expiration date is a work in progress – and is subject to statistical measurements.

“We’re not sure of how long the vaccine holds up and we only have eight months of data,” he said.

Pettit said that current recommendations call for a booster shot a year after the first vaccination, but that doesn’t consider new variants and strains.

“There will be a booster shot at some point,” he predicted.

In related action, the committee forwarded a resolution to the Ways & Means Committee to extend for another six months (through Dec. 31) two temporary positions to assist with the county’s response to the coronavirus – a full-time clerk typist and a full-time COVID-19 response specialist.

“This is necessary since we continue to provide vaccinations and testing,” Pettit said. “Hopefully, this will be the only extension we need.”

In other action, the committee granted permission to apply for a grant to help the health department prevent childhood lead poisoning and for surveillance of blood lead levels in children.

Funding of $1.1 million over five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be awarded through cooperative agreements to support primary and secondary prevention strategies for childhood lead poisoning prevention and surveillance.

Strategies include ensuring blood lead testing and reporting; enhancing blood lead surveillance; improving linkages to recommended services; and developing policies for targeted, population-based interventions with a focus on community-based approaches for lead hazard elimination.

Calling it a “big challenge,” Petti said he expects lead poison testing to pick up as COVID subsides. Should the department receive the grant, he said another employee will be hired to assist with the large data component attached to the funding.

March 25, 2021 - 12:23pm
posted by Press Release in news, COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine.

Press release:

The Genesee and Orleans County Health departments have two Pfizer vaccination clinics with appointments available for residents in Genesee and Orleans counties. 

Whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available is the right vaccine to get now! All approved vaccines are effective and saves lives. We encourage anyone that is currently eligible to register for an upcoming clinic.

Vaccine is now available for people age 50 and older along with the existing priority groups (http://bit.ly/NYSPriorityGroups). Pfizer is a two-series dose series, 21 days apart (three weeks), and is recommended for people aged 16 and older.

It is important to note that you must be able to return for the second dose 21 days after the first dose at the location you received your initial vaccination. You will be making that appointment after you are vaccinated. If you cannot make that date, please do not make an appointment for a two-dose series until you can make both appointments.  

Visit the vaccination web page at: https://bit.ly/GOHealthVaccine

Direct links to the first-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination clinics are:

Genesee clinic at Genesee Community College, Batavia: https://bit.ly/GCCPfizer

Orleans clinic at Ridgeway Fire Hall, Medina: http://bit.ly/OrleansPfizer

Orleans Community Health – Medina Memorial Hospital also has three clinics planned at 200 Ohio St., Medina:

If you are interested in making an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccination, now is the time to do it locally!

January 17, 2021 - 12:27pm
posted by Press Release in Steve Hawley, covid-19 vaccine, news, COVID-19.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley joined his colleagues in the Assembly Minority on Friday in writing a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, calling on them to include local home rule authorities in the process of developing coronavirus vaccine distribution plans in order to make them more effective.

The letter was drafted in response to reports that vaccine distribution has been slow and ineffective in New York State, with some vaccine doses reportedly being wastefully disposed of due to improper storage.

“What we do in these next few weeks with vaccine distribution will determine how much tragedy we will all have to endure as a state, so we need to act now to get these vaccines to the people that need them most, as quickly as possible,” Hawley said.

“We need to give the people who know their communities better than anyone a say in planning vaccine distribution, because a singular top-down approach will not work for the varied and unique communities that make up New York State. Getting these vaccines out effectively and promptly will save lives, and we cannot afford to let even a single dose of the vaccine go to waste during this unprecedented public health crisis.”

December 22, 2020 - 3:56pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, UMMC, COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine.

laurie_picture_2.jpg

Other than “a little arm soreness,” Laurie Kilbury Taylor, DO, an attending physician in the Emergency Department at United Memorial Medical Center, said she had no problem with the initial dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and is looking forward – for a number of reasons – to completing the process.

Kilbury Taylor (pictured above) was among the first UMMC staff members to receive the vaccine – “I felt very privileged to be invited to be in the first group,” she said – and said all of her colleagues are on board with being vaccinated.

She took part in a Zoom videoconference interview this morning to give an update on how she is feeling and share some of her other thoughts after getting the first of two shots last Thursday.

“Right afterwards, I felt normal. There was no pain .. I had no side effects; I had no allergic reaction,” she said. “And then, I think later on in the day, I felt a little arm soreness and that extended until the next day.”

She said she took some ibuprofen when she got home and again the next day.

“That was about it. Since then, then I’ve been fine,” she added.

Kilbury Taylor said the procedure is similar to the flu and other vaccinations, noting that the arm soreness “is to be expected when they stick a sharp needle in your arm.”

“Maybe it was a little bit more than what the flu shot was, but much less than, say, the tetanus shot,” she said.

Still, she said she had no restriction of motion and was able to do everything she needed to do.

According to the Food & Drug Administration, side effects of the vaccine typically begin within two days and are resolved a day or two after that. The most common consequences listed are tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and fever.

On a personal note, Kilbury Taylor shared that her 83-year-old mother, who has some medical issues, lives with her.

“I am always worried about coming home and having to take care of her and possibly transmitting COVID to her unknowingly because there are some asymptomatic carrier people,” she said. “Also, myself, if you haven’t noticed, I’m a little older and I do have asthma. So, for me being working in an environment where I’m constantly confronted with patients that have COVID or suspected COVID – although I’m wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) -- it only takes once to touch your face when you don’t realize you’re doing it.”

Kilbury Taylor said the vaccine provides hope of ending the pandemic and help “to reduce this so we can get back to somewhat normal lives.”

“I am very hopeful that this can help us take care of our patients better, with more confidence. I hope that it will reduce transmission, and I hope, most importantly, is to reduce the severity,” she said. “Some of these people get very, very sick, and it may not prevent getting infected but it may – as the flu shot does – decrease the severity of the illness if you do get sick.”

She said she is scheduled to get the second of the two doses on Jan. 4. The two doses combined reportedly are 94- to 95-percent effective.

She also encourages people to not believe everything they read or hear on the internet or on social media.

“Despite the fear you see on the internet, those aren’t reputable sources … It was very easy, very little discomfort,” she said. “I’m excited. It’s something you can do for your family and the community …”

Kilbury Taylor said the vaccine gives her some “reassurance” that eventually she will have some protection against the virus.

“It’s not instantaneous. It takes a few weeks to build your immunity and get the booster shot. We, of course, will continue to use the PPE and wear our gowns and our masks and our shields, our gloves – and wash in and out – but it’s a sense of hope that eventually these restrictions will be relaxed,” she said.

Other doctors and medical professionals are ready and willing to get the vaccine, she said.

“They can’t wait to get the vaccine, and they’re worried. 'Are they going to run out before I get mine?’ is the biggest concern of the physicians.”

Photo courtesy of Rochester Regional Health.

December 16, 2020 - 12:22pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, covid-19 vaccine, news, Batavia High School.

Submitted photo and information.

Batavia High School graduate Elliot Marino, Pharm.D, BCPS, clinical manager, pharmacy, administered the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday at Olean General Hospital. Katie Bocher, second-floor RN, was the first frontline healthcare worker at the facility to get innoculated.

The hospital received its first supply of the vaccine and began vaccinating physicians, nurses and staff who work in high-risk areas of the hospital.

Marino attended Batavia city schools from K-12 and graduated in 2008.

November 9, 2020 - 12:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in COVID-19, news, notify, covid-19 vaccine, Rochester Regional Health.

News that a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed by Pfizer is 90-percent effective represents "light at the end of the tunnel," according to two doctors involved in vaccine trials at Rochester Regional Health. But there are many difficulties ahead before this or any other vaccine can be widely distributed they cautioned.

Participating in a virtual press conference this morning with reporters from throughout the region were Dr. Ed Walsh and Dr. Ann Falsey. Walsh is the leader of the study at RGH and head of Infectious Diseases at RRH and Falsey is an infectious disease specialist at RRH and URMC codirector of Vaccines Trial Unit.

UMMC in Batavia is part of the RRH network of hospitals and care providers.

Pfizer announced early-stage trial results this morning. The company has not been part of the Warp Speed initiative by the Federal government to develop and distribute a vaccine for COVID-19, nor has it received government grants for the development of a vaccine, according to a spokesperson for Pfizer.

"We need to be cautious but I think it's actually a reason for optimism that the vaccines will work," Dr. Falsey said. "And I guess what I would say to the public is, you know, maybe this is the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's even more reason to wear your masks and do social distancing because I worry that fatigue sets in -- pandemic fatigue. 'It's hopeless. We're never going to get out of this.' And people develop a sort of fatalistic attitude. But I think vaccines are on the horizon. It's going to take a little while yet. But I think this is very encouraging news. I was very happy to hear it."

A story by the medical news website Stat News suggests the early results provided by Pfizer are robust, but also notes there has been no peer-review and Pfizer hasn't released a paper, known as a pre-print, with more scientific analysis. 

There is a lot we don't know about the vaccine, Walsh and Falsey acknowledged, including how long it will confer immunity to the disease since today's news is based on only two months of data.

Pfizer's trial is based study of people who received the vaccine in which 94 people contracted the disease. Pfizer did not reveal how many of those 94 people received the vaccine or a placebo (neither the participants nor the doctors administering it would have any way of knowing which injection they received in a double-blind study). 

"The expectation (of the public) should be that this is an interim report, and I think we all saw this on the news as well,the current guideline for safety analysis requires a longer period of time following the receipt of the second dose of the vaccine in order to feel comfortable with safety," Walsh said. "This is just two months of safety data, which is a good thing, but a final report, obviously, and assessment will be made both on safety and efficacy as they go along."

So far, only minor side effects, such as aches and a fever, have been reported from the vaccine. 

Typically it takes 12 to 18 months to bring a vaccine to market but given the high fatality rate of COVID-19 and the ability of SARS-CoV-2 to spread rapidly in some circumstances, along with the dire economic consequences of the pandemic, scientists and government officials are moving quickly to find an effective and safe vaccine.

Walsh suggested that by the time the vaccine is ready for distribution -- if it ever is -- and at the earliest date distribution might start, meaning perhaps January, we will have greater confidence in its safety, especially balanced against the risk of the novel coronavirus.

"You're really weighing a risk-benefit issue," Walsh said. "We're looking at a pandemic that is potentially going to result in, if left unchecked, hundreds of thousands of more deaths in the U.S. and certainly millions worldwide. And so you try to make your best judgment as to what kind of side effects might you be missing in an early decision to deploy a vaccine. If it's been four months or five months, that's an encompassing period of time when you're generally going to see almost all of the side effects that might come from a vaccine and this type or of any type."

We're now in a period of increasing infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths but the Pfizer results seem to have come from a period when there was a low prevalence of the disease and it's still possible SARS-CoV-2 doesn't spread as easily in warmer weather. Asked if that might skew the results of Pfizer's study Walsh said he hadn't yet thought of that question and would need some time to think about it.

If the vaccine is approved for the wider public, distribution will be a challenge.

The Pfizer vaccine must be administered in two doses three weeks apart. 

It also must be stored at -112 Fahrenheit. That makes production distribution a challenge, but it also means that the vaccine can only be stored and administered from locations that a freezer capable of maintaining such a frigid temperature. That means neither your local doctor nor the pharmacy is going to be able to provide the vaccine.

A spokeswoman for RRH said it's way too early to know if UMMC is a potential distribution location. If it isn't, people in Genesee County seeking the vaccine will likely need to visit a hospital in Rochester or Buffalo.

It will take time to ramp up production of the vaccine -- though Pfizer has reportedly already started production -- and distribution will take time, so the people eligible to receive the vaccine will be prioritized in tiers with front-line healthcare workers at the front of the line followed by elderly, vulnerable people.

There's no guarantee the Pfizer vaccine will make the grade in its next phase trials but there are at least 11 other promising vaccines in development. Walsh said that's a good thing whether Pfizers proves ultimately effective or not because if there are more successful vaccines that will help supply and distribution.

The 90-percent efficacy rate for the Pfizer vaccine, if it holds up, is exceptional, Walsh said. Not all vaccines are as effective. He noted the measle vaccine is the most effective viral vaccine with an effective rate of 96 percent.

While there is much to learn yet about SARS-Cov-2 and how to vaccinate against it, both Walsh and Falsey struck upbeat notes about vaccines in general and the ability to find a vaccine to fight COVID-19.

The history of vaccines has been generally, and not universally but generally, extraordinarily successful," Walsh said. "The benefit of the vaccines that have been released over the years, over the many, many years of vaccines and going back to the 1950s, is the benefit has far outweighed any risks. I think there is that history to rely on though it is no guarantee, of course. But I think this is important, too, to recognize it and education will be important (to acceptance of the vaccine)."

Falsey added, "A lot of the vaccine hesitancy in recent years has been because vaccines have been so successful that they have nearly eradicated the terrible diseases. And so people don't understand the true impact of some of these infections and they start fixating on potential threats from a vaccine. I think with this pandemic, we can look around and see friends and family members who have been devastated.

"And so everything is risk-benefit. In addition to educating people about misinformation and the true side effects of vaccines, we can also ask them to think about risk-benefit ratios and that with 100,000 cases a day and a thousand deaths each day in the U.S., there's a significant risk to not getting vaccinated. So choosing to not accept the vaccine or not do anything is a decision, and that also carries significant risk."

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