SCHENECTADY — Schenectady County public officials completed the local inaugural round of COVID vaccinations Thursday, finding a quick and ready audience for the shots.
All 100 doses were injected into recipients’ shoulders by 4 p.m. at the vaccination site in the main branch of the county public library.
Demand for the vaccine far exceeds supply, and only a tiny portion of the population qualifies to receive it so far.
But Thursday was a start, Schenectady County Administrator Rory Fluman said, and there is a well-rehearsed mass vaccination protocol in place for when the vaccine supply increases. At that point, he said, the general population should be able to walk into a pharmacy to receive the shots, but the county will be able to administer hundreds of doses per day at multiple locations, as well.
The 100 vaccine recipients Thursday were a mix of the Tier 1A groups who’ve been given top priority for the vaccine — health care workers, nursing home employees, emergency medical services personnel, residents of certain group-living facilities.
“It was very interesting,” Fluman said. “We filled up very quickly.”
The county-run nursing facility, the Glendale Home, did not receive enough doses of the vaccine for all of its employees, he said, and some nursing homes got none at all. So on Wednesday, he notified nursing home managers across the county about Thursday’s clinic.
Nursing home employees made up a significant percentage of those who were vaccinated at the library.
Another factor that brought people in was vaccine preference, Fluman said: Some people are saying they want the Moderna vaccine rather than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The state is using a hub-and-spoke distribution network for the vaccine, he explained, and the initial indication is that hospitals will be storing and administering the Pfizer vaccine, which is more fragile and must be held at around 100 degrees below zero, while the Moderna vaccine will be sent out to counties for local distribution.
So the county was able to accommodate the Moderna fans.
The official state data released Thursday marked a depressing end to 2020 and an unpromising start to a month that is expected to see COVID cases spike because of social gatherings during the late-December holidays:
- The statewide COVID death toll topped 30,000; the actual number of New Yorkers killed by the virus is believed to be higher, but the official death toll stands at 30,040 at year’s end.
- The 136 new deaths reported Thursday included five in Albany County residents.
- Statewide, 7,995 people were hospitalized with COVID, 1,276 of them in intensive care.
- The positive test rate continues to rise, hitting 6.8% statewide on a seven-day average; the Capital Region’s rate is 9.1%, second-highest after the Finger Lakes region at 9.2%.
- Across the Capital Region and eastern Mohawk Valley, county-level seven-day positive test averages were: Albany, 9.2%; Columbia, 6.2%; Fulton, 7.4%; Greene, 11.3%; Montgomery, 10.3%; Rensselaer, 9.8%; Saratoga, 9.4%; Schenectady, 11.3%; Schoharie, 11.7%; Warren, 5.6%; and Washington, 4.7%.
- Warren County had a record-high single-day number of positive tests (53) for the third day in a row and said it is now seeing infections in people who didn’t attend an underage drinking party in Wilton on Dec. 18 but had contact with someone who did.