Southside vaccination

A man receives a vaccination at the Southside Community Center.

On April 6 vaccine eligibility was expanded to everyone ages 16+. Between that and the steadily increasing supply, it’s a natural question to wonder what’s next for vaccination in Tompkins County.

According to the New York state vaccine tracker, 44,739 people have gotten their first dose in Tompkins County, while 24,633 are fully vaccinated. Currently, Cayuga Health Systems has administered 21,771 first doses and 12,946 second doses. Though the majority of these have been done at the mass vaccination site at the mall, the Health Department and Cayuga Health have done some outreach in other ways.

“We’ve been doing a lot of offsite vaccinations already,” Health Director Frank Kruppa said. 

In addition to the pop-up event at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School in February, during which 300 doses were distributed to eligible groups, the Health Department and Cayuga Health have also traveled out to income-based housing units, the homeless population and homebound residents to bring the vaccine to them. The Health Department has also been working directly with Southside Community Center to provide vaccine doses for people that way too. A second 200-dose pop-up for West Hill and West End residents will be held on April 10, and the county and Cayuga Health  are hoping to soon open smaller points of dispensary in more rural parts of the county.

“Certainly looking at places like Newfield, Groton, and other parts of the county where it would be much easier if there was a location closer to them,” Kruppa said. 

Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College have all been approved as vaccination sites, but Kruppa said that doesn’t necessarily change anything at the moment.

“It doesn’t mean they’re getting the vaccine,” Kruppa said. “It just means they have all the proper paperwork in.”

The state is in charge of allocating the vaccine doses, so it’s ultimately up to them which vaccination sites receive doses. 

“So we’ll just have to wait each week and see,” Kruppa said. “What I can say is we expect we’ll be vaccinating a large number of students at the mall site, so future clinics will have a lot of students that we’re able to vaccinate.”

Kruppa added that he does think we’re moving nearer to the point where vaccine is readily available, and that he thinks by the time colleges and universities receive doses it’ll be about convenience. He also said if one of the schools were to receive a small allocation of doses, it could be easier just to have them reallocate it to the mall site where everything is already set up and ready to go.

For what feels like the first time, Kruppa is looking ahead in weeks and not months when it comes to a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We’re excited about the amount of vaccine,” he said. “45% of residents have their first dose, and we’ve been able to open up our vaccine clinics to all the eligible folks who have put their names on our registry. So hopefully within a few weeks there will be enough for anyone who wants it.”

He reiterated the importance of educating the population to ensure as many people are getting the vaccine as possible to reach the herd immunity threshold of about 80%. 

“As more and more people get vaccinated we’ll see a relaxing of the guidance,” he said. “But we’re not there yet.”

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