Rising COVID vaccine supply to boost local immunization efforts

Patricia VanSleet, of Fort Plain, receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Burt Deis at a clinic in St. Johnsville on Sunday.
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Patricia VanSleet, of Fort Plain, receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from pharmacist Burt Deis at a clinic in St. Johnsville on Sunday.

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic was able to provide doses to 400 senior citizens on Sunday, bringing the number of Montgomery County seniors immunized at the former D.H. Robbins Elementary School in St. Johnsville to 1,400.

After filling out paperwork and receiving a temperature check, attendees of Sunday’s clinic — which was hosted by Kinney Drugs and Montgomery County Office for Aging — moved to the building’s gymnasium for the first of two shots of the COVID vaccine made by Pfizer. The second dose will be provided at the same location in three weeks.

Even with the 15 minute post-shot observation period, attendees were in and out of Sunday’s clinic in about 30 minutes.

The Montgomery County Public Health Department has so far vaccinated about 3,000 residents, county Executive Matthew Ossenfort said Sunday. With pharmacies throughout the county also now supplying vaccines, about 5,000 to 6,000 county residents have so far received at least their first shot, he said.

Ossenfort said at this point, most of the county’s 60-plus population has been vaccinated.

The county executive also said he expects the state to start providing allotments larger than the 300 to 400 vaccines a month the public health department has been receiving.

“What you’re seeing is the supply really starting to explode,” said Ossenfort. “I think a month from now, we’ll start getting to the point where there’s more supply than demand.”

The county Public Health Department — which will soon increase messaging about the importance of vaccination — has also started holding in-house clinics at large businesses.

Last week, the first of those took place at Alpin Haus and Hill & Markes in Amsterdam.

Ossenfort said plans exist for several other large companies to host clinics soon.

The increasing number of venues where residents can receive a COVID-19 vaccination has provided recipients with some solace and a sense of relief, Ossenfort said.

Fort Plain resident Patricia VanSleet, 60, was thrilled to have a vaccination opportunity Sunday, as she was previously unable to schedule an appointment. VanSleet said she’ll finally breathe a sigh of relief while running errands and shopping, which she’s done for herself and her 70-year-old neighbor and landlord — who also received her first shot Sunday — since the pandemic began.

“She hasn’t been out since this started,” VanSleet said of her neighbor, adding that she’s volunteered to run all her errands because “I don’t want her to get sick. That would be awful!”

Montgomery County OFA Executive Director David Jordan said one of the organization’s goals in partnering with Kinney Drugs for Sunday’s event was to give seniors an opportunity to be vaccinated close to home.

When vaccines were first being provided, many senior citizens had to wait a month or more, or drive several hours, to find an available appointment.

“We wanted to take this opportunity because we thought it was unheard of,” Jordan said of the chance to have so many seniors vaccinated close to home. “We hadn’t been given a lot of vaccines prior to this, and none of them were earmarked for older adults, and that was one of the biggest requests we were getting.”

While there were some extended wait times at a previous clinic in Hagaman, he expects future events to run as smoothly as the clinic Sunday.

Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

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