COVID-19 vaccine clinic fills all 400 slots in 45 minutes

Jennifer A. Pelton, director of Adult Services at Transitional Living Services in Watertown, is vaccinated Dec. 30 for COVID-19. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The Jefferson County centralized COVID-19 vaccination site will not be offering doses this week after weather conditions in Texas disrupted supplies.

According to Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott A. Gray, the vaccination site partners did not receive their allotted doses this week because a distribution site in Texas is out of service.

“There are a couple of things going on, I believe power is a major issue for refrigeration,” he said, “and I believe transportation is another issue. There’s a multitude of issues going on.”

But not all clinics have been canceled. In a release Thursday afternoon, Kinney Drugs confirmed all of its scheduled second dose clinics will continue as planned.

“We understand that all the reports of vaccine delays have caused people some angst, particularly among those scheduled for their second dose,” said John Marraffa, vice president of health care services integration for the pharmacy chain. “We are happy to report that Kinney Drugs has secured vaccine for all clinics scheduled for this weekend.”

Those with appointments should expect to receive their dose at their scheduled time.

The state of Texas is facing rolling blackouts after experiencing significant winter weather this week. The typically warm state has seen temperatures plummet well below winter averages for about a week.

The state’s power grid, engineered for extreme heat but not extreme cold, has been unable to cope with the increased demand for energy and natural gas, resulting in blackouts that have left more than 12 million people in the state without reliable power, heating or water for days. Since last week, 16 people have died.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told reporters during a conference call Wednesday that the state was anticipating delays on vaccine allotments from the federal government because of the weather in Texas.

“Some of the deliveries from the federal government of the allocations may be delayed this week because of the storms across the country,” he said. “They made that clear on the White House call this week, and we are experiencing that.”

Mr. Gray said he has been in touch with state officials, who say there’s no real timeline for when the doses may be delivered. It all relies on when the Texas power grid is stabilized.

This was meant to be the third week of the collaboration between the Jefferson County Public Health Service, Carthage Area Hospital, Samaritan Health and North Country Family Health, as well as the Volunteer Transportation Center and Jefferson Community College. After the first week’s clinic for vaccinating people who had prior appointments was canceled, this was to be the second week of vaccinating new community members who have not yet had a chance to receive a dose.

The public health service expected to devote 400 doses to the clinic this week, while Carthage Area Hospital, Samaritan Health and North Country Family Health expected to devote 100 doses each, for a combined total of 700 vaccines.

Mr. Gray said that allocation was reported Monday, but the county does not begin taking appointments until the doses arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

“This is precisely why we do not schedule appointments ahead of time,” he said.

Mr. Gray said this is just another temporary setback in the county’s COVID-19 response, and it’s being taken in stride.

“We’ll just deal with it and move on,” he said. “It’s a disruption, but nothing has been normal with COVID-19. We’re used to having to turn on a dime in this atmosphere.”

More information will be released when the county is advised of when it will receive more vaccine doses.

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