WATERTOWN — Just a day after filling up appointments, the Jefferson County Public Health Service’s first COVID-19 vaccination clinics have been canceled after the state was unable to deliver the required doses in time.
Jefferson County confirmed the cancellations of Wednesday and Thursday’s clinics in a press release Tuesday afternoon and noted that any individuals who were signed up would be notified via email.
“When JCPHS receives future doses, clinics will be scheduled to accommodate the increasing populations eligible for vaccine. JCPHS is committed to continuing COVID-19 vaccination efforts for all who wish to receive it,” a statement from public health read.
The county’s public health service signed up close to 400 people who qualify under the state’s newly opened 1B criteria Monday. It’s unclear if those who had an appointment will need to sign up again, but the public health service noted information on future clinics will be available via its website when that information becomes available.
Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott A. Gray said the governor’s office had pushed Jefferson County and other counties to move forward scheduling vaccination appointments without actually having the doses delivered — something he pushed back on.
“I said that’s a recipe for disaster,” Mr. Gray said Monday night.
Less than 24 hours later, it was clear he would prove correct as roughly 400 people were delayed from receiving shots for at least another few days.
Kinney Drugs, which is also set to begin vaccinating people aged 75 or greater who signed up for a number of limited slots Monday, said their vaccines have arrived and appointments will move forward as scheduled. The company also notified people on its email mailing list for COVID-19 updates that vaccination appointments for those aged 65 or older would open up “soon.”
St. Lawrence County residents are one step closers to getting COVID-19 jabs with more county and state-run points of distribution, or PODs, being rolled out in the near future.
The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department noted it’s working to launch county-run vaccination PODs in Gouverneur, Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam and Star Lake. A release from the department did not include a time frame, but County Attorney Stephen Button said Tuesday that his office was still working to finalize agreements to get them established.
“Vaccination is a critical next step in our efforts to mitigate the COVID 19 pandemic. Safe and effective vaccination is now available — our job is to implement a comprehensive, equitable and safe vaccine program for our entire community,” Public Health Director Dana O. McGuire wrote in the release. “By leveraging the expertise of SLC Department of Public Health, the local healthcare systems and the resources of NY State, I am certain we will achieve this goal.”
The departments release instructed those in the eligible categories looking to make an appointment to frequently check the state’s online registration portal, am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov, or try using the state hotline, 1-833-NYS-4VAX.
Details are still scarce, but a POD will also be set up at Maxcy Hall on SUNY Potsdam’s campus as one of about a score of state-run facilities. Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa announced SUNY Potsdam would be one of the state-run sites in a Tweet on Monday, later confirmed by a spokesperson for the university.
There was some initial confusion as to who will be facilitating the site, some of which is still unresolved as of Tuesday, but county officials were able to confirm that, when ready, it would be one of the locations available for appointments through the state’s online portal. As with all PODs, an appointment will be necessary.
Monday’s opening of eligibility for individuals in Phase 1B allows for many of the following to groups to make appointments for vaccinations: teachers, corrections officers, first responders, grocery store workers and public transit employees. While Monday’s opening also included people aged 75 or older, that guidance was updated Tuesday to allow anyone 65 years or older to make an appointment for vaccination.
As of Monday, BOCES officials indicated that teachers and school staff can expect to receive information from superintendents about vaccination clinics specifically for them.