Aid for vaccine rollout sought

Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center’s Dr. Arthur Fedorowicz receives the Moderna coronavirus vaccine Dec. 23. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — After months of trials and emergency approvals, doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine are arriving in communities across the country, and St. Lawrence County is calling for volunteers to assist with distribution.

Both medical and non-medical volunteers are needed, the county Public Health Department relayed in a news release Wednesday evening.

“The Public Health Department’s goal is to make the vaccine available to all eligible residents of St. Lawrence County and to make the vaccination process as efficient as possible,” the release reads.

Medical volunteers — including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed physicians, licensed physician assistants, licensed pharmacists, midwives, dentists and dental hygienists, podiatrists, paramedics, nursing students and physician assistant students — would be expected to help with pre-vaccination screenings, vaccine administration and post-vaccination monitoring.

Monday’s state Executive Order 202.86 permits retired medical professionals still in good standing to volunteer.

Non-medical volunteers will be asked to work at vaccination sites to coordinate operations — registration and check-in, data entry and monitoring traffic flow.

Volunteer registration is being facilitated by ServNY, the state registry of health care professionals and community members volunteering during a public health emergency or disaster.

For more information, contact the county Public Health Department’s Volunteer Coordinator Jenesse Watson at jwatson@stlawco.org or 315-229-3407.

First doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines made it to north country hospitals and nursing homes this month, and second doses, as well as additional doses for first-time recipients, are set to be administered at vaccination clinics in the coming months.

Under state guidelines, vaccinations will be provided in phases. Over the last two weeks, phase one recipients have included high-risk hospital workers — emergency room, ICU and pulmonary department staff — nursing home residents and staff, Federally Qualified Health Center employees, EMS workers, coroners and Urgent Care Center employees, as well as residents and staff at group homes and mental health and substance use facilities.

The state anticipates expanding distribution to ambulatory care workers and public-facing public health workers.

The county Public Health Department reported 153 new positive coronavirus test results Thursday, breaking Wednesday’s record for the highest one-day increase since case reporting began in the north country 10 months ago. St. Lawrence County has confirmed 2,423 COVID-19 cases in that time period, with 635 cases — roughly 26% — currently active.

More information about county case numbers and town breakdowns is posted to the Public Health Department’s COVID-19 page on the county website.

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