New York expands vaccinations to elderly, essential workers

A doctor prepares to administer a vaccine injection to Claudia Scott-Mighty, a patient care director at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital on Friday in Bronxville, N.Y. The second round of the vaccine increases its efficacy to 95%, according to Pfizer. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen).

The mass vaccination campaign is getting underway in Niagara County on Tuesday with the Niagara County Department of Health will be conducting Point of Dispensing (POD) operations.

PODs will be scheduled Tuesday through Thursday on a weekly basis, dependent on vaccine availability. Primary POD locations have been identified in Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda, according to Daniel J. Stapleton, public health director. All POD operations are pre-registration only and sites will be changed to ensure access by different areas across the county.

“There are two key steps for securing an appointment for COVID-19 vaccine at one of our PODs,” stated Elise Pignatora, director of Public Health Planning and Emergency Preparedness.

• First, determine if you are eligible in the current New York state priority group phase, by visiting https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/. Click on “Check Eligibility” and complete the form. Upon submission, it will advise if you are eligible or not. Please print out the page that tells you if you are eligible (or save a screenshot on your phone) and bring it with you to the POD.

You will also need to bring proof of eligibility such as an employee ID card, letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status.

• Second, schedule an appointment at one of the providers displayed after you complete the aforementioned form. For Niagara County DOH PODs, vaccinations are available by appointment only by registering via the links provided on our website at: https://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Public-Health-Preparedness/2019-Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19/COVID-19-Vaccination.

“Appointments will be made available for the current number of vaccine doses we have on hand to administer,” Stapleton said. Participants will receive a vaccination card that lists when the second dose should be received.

Niagara County Department of Health is administering Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which requires a second dose of the same vaccine one month later to complete the vaccination series.

“After vaccination, it is still very important that you continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing,” Stapleton said.

According to NYS, people age 75 and over will primarily be vaccinated at pharmacies and other sites that are part of a “retail network.”

Visit the “NYS Am I Eligible” website at: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ to find a location or call the COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).

For more information regarding the NYS priority groups for vaccine eligibility, visit: https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/phased-distribution-vaccine.

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