A North Carolina television station is reporting how residents from all over the country ended up on that state’s waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine, including some from our area.
“We had about 26,000 on the list at one point and now we’re down to less than 18,000,” Todd McGee, Orange County (NC) community relations director told WNCT. “That’s because a lot of people opted out when they realized we were Orange County, North Carolina and not Orange County, California.”
It turns out this is a common problem, since there are so many Orange counties in the country, including California, Florida and, of course, New York.
It underlies the problem that vaccines continue to be in short supply in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere. The problem is not unique to Orange County. As of Monday, Ulster County has declared that more than 120,000 of its citizens are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
While Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan’s announcement is certainly welcome news, it is masked by the reality that only a fraction of them have received it. The county, to date, has received only 12,000 vaccines. Last week, the county received 1,500 doses, a 20 percent reduction from the previous week.
On February 3, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an additional 35 pop-up sites in the state, including the Newburgh Armory Unity Center in the City of Newburgh. But it turned out to be a one-day event, with a little more than 300 vaccinations administered there.
At this writing, there is no word on when, or if, additional vaccines will be available at the Newburgh site, or elsewhere in the vicinity. There are still thousands waiting, including elderly residents over 75, people with underlying medical conditions that should make them a priority and healthcare providers. Residents tell us horror stories of staying on their computers for hours at a time in an effort to schedule an appointment for an elderly parent or relative, only to find the nearest available appointment in Westchester, New York City, or farther away. Not everyone can make that trip. One resident decided to make an outing of it, scheduling an appointment in Potsdam, near the Canadian border. That’s a trip most of us wouldn’t want to make in the wintertime, especially when there is always a possibility that the appointment could be canceled at the last minute if the vaccines don’t arrive at the site on time.
The Biden administration has suggested that the country is on track to have enough supplies for 300 million Americans to be vaccinated with two doses by the end of July. But that’s no guarantee since each state has its own system in place to administer shots, and some may be faster and more efficient than others in getting them out.
Getting more doses of the vaccine into the arms of our residents is imperative in a region that still has its hot spots. Orange County still has one Yellow Zone, due to the high-number of COVID cases. Why, then, is it not more of a priority to get more first doses to our residents?