This past week, the federal government announced that one million vaccine doses would go to 6,500 retail pharmacies. Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, said the program will eventually expand to deliver vaccines to as many as 40,000 drugstores and grocery stores across the country.
This special allocation to pharmacies will allow for more individuals over the age of 65 to be vaccinated. No one under the age of 65-years-old will be eligible for a vaccine from the pharmacy. Others who are essential workers and eligible are being directed to be vaccinated at the state distribution centers or at the county centers. Orange County has held a POD, or point of dispensing, at a county facility on Hatfield Lane at the end of January. Another 900 people were vaccinated at this site on Thursday, February 11. This brings the county-led vaccinations to a total of nearly 5,000 doses.
In Orange County, there has not yet been word on if the vaccine will come to local pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid or CVS. Smaller pharmacies, like Medical Arts Pharmacy, could potentially also receive the vaccine. Medical Arts Pharmacy said they filed the paperwork weeks ago and are hoping to receive doses soon. To be put on their notification list, call them at 845-561-3784.
For the time being, Orange County is continuing to send residents to the county’s vaccination information request form. The form is for notification of when the vaccine becomes available only. Community members are not able to get an appointment directly from the request form.
In the Town of New Windsor, they have capped off their vaccination notification list at 2,000 residents. They have still not received any doses from the state, which is why they decided to put a hold on the list. Currently the Town of New Windsor Supervisor George Meyers is encouraging residents over the age of 65 to look to local pharmacies for appointments.
In addition to pharmacies beginning to distribute the vaccine, some private practices are as well. A number of private practices have mailing lists, similar to the county’s, to stay updated on when they will receive the vaccine.
Senator James Skoufis said the entire state of New York will be receiving six percent more of the vaccination allocation. That brings it to a total of 21 percent higher than what the State was given weeks ago.
County Executive Steve Neuhaus said over 80 percent of nursing home residents have been vaccinated in the county as of February 10. Neuhaus said the county was expecting additional vaccines for the week of February 15, although the snowy weather had to be taken into consideration. If you are not contacted for an appointment, the county will send an updated letter informing residents of what is going on with the process.
“We are starting to share our list with local hospitals and medical providers, so you might get scheduled with someone else,” said Neuhaus at his February 15 briefing. “I just sent one out to one of our hospitals today.”
Neuhaus also reported that Sullivan and Orange Counties have “been underserved with the amount of vaccines they’re given based on population.”
“People are dying on a regular basis that, in my opinion, could be saved and should not have to die,” said Neuhaus. “There are senior centers that have not been vaccinated yet, including staff. There are people with disabilities that have not been vaccinated yet.”
As of Monday, February 15, 107 people are hospitalized in Orange County, according to Neuhaus.
Despite the vaccination rollout being difficult as it is, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that individuals with comorbidities also became eligible to get the vaccine, which began on February 15. The new guidance allows people who have cancer, chronic kidney disease, pulmonary disease, intellectual and developmental disabilities, heart conditions, and other underlying conditions, to register for appointments.
If you are interested in learning more about the vaccine, Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall is partnering with the Cornwall Public Library for a virtual seminar on the COVID-19 vaccine. The seminar will be on Wednesday, February 24 at 6 p.m.