Liberty, NY – Sullivan County Public Health Services has begun preparations to offer a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to eligible populations.
“Right now we’re waiting on the NYS Department of Health, whose Commissioner Howard Zucker has convened the State’s Clinical Advisory Task Force to finalize guidance on how we can distribute and administer these doses,” Public Health Director Nancy McGraw explained.
Those preparations include:
- Determining locations and staffing for clinic sites
- Creating a notification system
- Gathering necessary supplies
- Informing local physicians, healthcare organizations and other partners
“We’ve amassed a good deal of experience delivering vaccines, so we mostly know what we have to do,” McGraw affirmed. “I just ask that people be patient as we develop these third-dose clinics. We will announce where they’re happening and who’s eligible just as soon as we can.”
In the meantime, Public Health Services continues to urge parents of children over 12 years old to be vaccinated, and anyone who works with children in schools or daycare settings to get vaccinated now if they have not yet done so, before school starts. Just over 63% of Sullivan County’s year-round population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but active coronavirus cases continue to climb due to the Delta variant, currently standing at 175, six of whom are in the hospital. An additional death has also occurred, taking the cumulative total to 79.
“In communities with vaccination rates less than 70%, and in parts of the County with very low vaccination rates, the likelihood that the Delta variant will continue to put the unvaccinated at higher risk, and make them very sick, is real. This includes children too young (less than age 12) to be vaccinated yet,” stated McGraw.
“The ages of those being admitted to the hospital – almost all of whom are unvaccinated – are getting younger, with 83% of the admissions currently between the ages of 19 and 54 years old. And over half of all new positive cases since July 1 have been among individuals younger than 35,” she added. “There is no pediatric ICU available in Sullivan County, and if younger children start getting sick enough to need hospital admission, their families will have a very difficult time, financially and emotionally, having to travel out of the county.”
Public Health Services continues to offer free Pfizer doses (ages 12 and older) every Wednesday from 2-6 p.m. at its offices at 50 Community Lane in Liberty. Walk-in or register at www.sullivanny.us/Departments/Publichealth/COVIDvaccines/clinics. Local pharmacies and healthcare providers are also offering free shots, and in homebound cases, Public Health can make personal visits. (Call 845-292-5910 to schedule, if homebound.)
Other vaccination locations with current stock can be found at www.vaccines.gov, by texting your zip code to 438829 or by calling 1-800-232-0233. If you have questions about COVID-19, call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.
McGraw also strongly encourages everyone – vaccinated or unvaccinated – to wear masks indoors and outdoors where you cannot be at least six feet away from another person, and you are in a large group for greater than 15 minutes.
“Our primary goal right now is to vaccinate individuals 12 and older in order to offer the best protection we can to our children before the school year begins,” she said. “Vaccination and masks are the two most effective prevention tools we have, and they work.”