Mass vaccination sites start closing, including Potsdam

Fireworks burst over the Empire State Plaza in Albany last week to celebrate 70% of New York adults receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office

A handful of New York’s 27 mass COVID-19 vaccination sites will close this week as the state shifts its focus to areas with low vaccination rates.

Beginning Monday, the mass vaccination sites at SUNY Potsdam, Corning Community College, SUNY Oneonta and York College in Queens will close. It’s part of a “downscaling” by the state, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. More sites will close based on demand.

One reason for the shutdown of some clinics is the statewide vaccination rate reached the 70% milestone.

As of Friday, the state Department of Health reported that 70.6% of adults ages 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in New York. Nearly 63% of adults are fully vaccinated.

New York opened the mass vaccination sites to serve eligible populations, such as essential workers and older residents. Now that anyone ages 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine, the clinics have administered shots to a larger group.

The clinic at the New York State Fairgrounds has been a popular option for people seeking the vaccine. State Fair Director Troy Waffner told The Citizen in February that there were residents from different parts of the state who received their vaccinations at the fairgrounds.

“Our network of mass vaccination sites administered the biggest throughput of vaccinations in a short period of time, and thanks to their success we hit the milestones we needed to hit to get back to life as we know it,” Cuomo said. “Our statewide progress has been remarkable, but we still need to get more shots in people’s arms, particularly in areas that are still lagging on vaccinations.”

With the closure of the four mass vaccination sites, the state will shift resources to zip codes with the lowest vaccination rates. Cuomo has highlighted these zip codes during recent briefings and urged local health departments to target those areas.

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