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Where Cayuga County residents are getting COVID-19 vaccine
CAYUGA COUNTY

Where Cayuga County residents are getting COVID-19 vaccine

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Vaccine

Residents 65 and older attend the Cayuga County Health Department's vaccine clinic at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES in Aurelius.

More than 10,000 Cayuga County residents — over 13% of the population — have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to new data posted on the state Department of Health's vaccination tracker. 

First doses have been administered to 10,407 residents, while 5,492 have received both doses of the vaccine. The two approved vaccinations, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, require two doses. 

But what's unknown is where the residents have been vaccinated. The state's tracker, which began posting county-level numbers this week, doesn't contain further information. A note posted above the county-by-county breakdown states that the data "reflects all vaccinated New Yorkers by county of residence, including those vaccinated through New York State Healthcare Distribution Sites and the federal government's Long Term Care Facility program." 

The state health care distribution sites include hospitals, mass vaccination clinics and pharmacies. 

The Cayuga County Health Department has administered 3,723 first doses and 2,367 second doses, according to Public Health Director Kathleen Cuddy. She explained in an email that after receiving an initial allotment of 2,000 doses, the department has been receiving 200 doses each week. There have been an additional 100 doses some weeks, which she said are used "to serve a specific population." 

Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, partnered with pharmacies to vaccinate residents and staff. Local health departments have been tasked with administering doses to eligible workers. Pharmacies have been directed to inoculate people age 65 and older. Hospitals were allotted vaccinations for their employees and certain workers eligible in the priority 1A and 1B groups. 

Auburn Community Hospital has administered 1,829 first doses and 1,612 second doses, according to a spokesman. East Hill Medical Center, a federally qualified health center in Auburn, has dispensed 219 first doses and 216 second doses of the vaccine. The center is expecting another round of doses soon, according to Jessica Soule, the center's director of strategic partnerships. 

But there hasn't been much communication about the pharmacies offering vaccinations. At a Cayuga County Board of Health meeting last month, Cuddy said she was aware of a handful of local pharmacies that were administering the vaccine. 

In her email to The Citizen, Cuddy wrote that she had no information on any other pharmacies offering inoculations. 

COVID-19 vaccine information for Cayuga County residents

"I have only heard anecdotally about some of the supermarket pharmacies ... looking into providing this service," she added. "As they have corporate offices and locations, I don't know about whether Auburn locations are part of their plan at this time." 

The state's tracker has data on vaccinations administered in hospitals and nursing homes — 85% of nursing home residents and 89% of hospital workers in Cayuga County have been vaccinated. But it's unknown how many county residents have been vaccinated at pharmacies — and many of the pharmacies aren't disclosing that information. 

Kinney Drugs has been administering COVID-19 vaccinations at its four Cayuga County locations (two in Auburn, one each in Moravia and Weedsport) since Jan. 14, according to the company. Each pharmacy receives 100 doses per week. Since the program began, the four pharmacies have administered 1,600 doses. Second doses are beginning this week. 

Walgreens, which has two pharmacies in Auburn, did not confirm whether the Cayuga County stores are offering the vaccine. The company directed The Citizen to its website, where it lists that 10,700 doses have been allocated to 107 New York stores — an average of 100 per store. 

Rite-Aid is also getting 100 doses for its participating stores, but like Walgreens, doesn't release a list of locations offering the vaccine and doesn't have store-level data. Rite-Aid on Grant Avenue in Auburn was one of the pharmacies Cuddy mentioned that has been offering the vaccine. 

Tops and Wegmans pharmacies in Auburn are offering the vaccine, but no store-specific data is available. A Tops spokesperson provided a statewide count of 10,664 shots that have been administered at the chain's pharmacies in New York. A Wegmans spokesperson said select New York stores began administering the vaccine in mid-January and that "participating in this effort has been extremely impactful for all involved, and we value the opportunity to help increase vaccination rates in our communities." 

Herbst Pharmacy, an independent store in Port Byron, vaccinated 200 people in a two-week period. Matt Herbst, the owner and pharmacist, said he hasn't received any more doses in four weeks. However, he did get enough second doses for the individuals who received their first shots at the pharmacy. 

It's possible that some Cayuga County residents were vaccinated at the state-run clinic in the Syracuse area. There is a mass vaccination clinic at the Expo Center on the New York State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County. 

Since vaccinations became available in mid-December, New York state has received more than 2.3 million doses. As of Thursday, 2,109,690 first doses and 1,284,300 second doses have been administered. 

In other news

• Cayuga County admitted 27 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, increasing the number of active cases to 149. There were 137 active cases on Tuesday. 

There are nine COVID-related patients at Auburn Community Hospital, but no new deaths were reported. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.

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