POTSDAM — St. Lawrence County ranks among the top five counties in upstate New York in terms of vaccination rates, specifically the number of residents who have received their first doses, at just over 24%.
In Franklin, Clinton and Essex counties, the numbers are similarly in the 20s. Hamilton County leads with the highest number at just over 44%. Behind St. Lawrence County are Jefferson and Lewis counties, at 17.4% and 16.2%, respectively.
The statewide average is currently 16.2%, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker.
As of Saturday, more than 3.3 million New Yorkers have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. In St. Lawrence County, 27,009 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Jefferson County has administered at least the first dose to 20,310 people and about 4,660 people have received the first dose in Lewis County. Dashboards are updated daily with data at about 11 a.m. the same day.
As of Feb. 24, vaccination program numbers reflect all doses delivered to and administered in New York state, including doses reserved for the federal government’s Long-Term Care Facility program.
From a state sanctioned vaccination site at SUNY Potsdam, to a small hospital reaching out to those who are eligible, St. Lawrence County has made it a priority to get as many shots into the arms of willing residents as it can, and the numbers coming from the county reflect these efforts.
“We have done a great job of getting the vaccine in arms here at Clifton-Fine,” Clifton Fine Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dierdra D. Sorrell said. “The first 400 or so doses we got we had to be very creative because we were limited to who we could give those medications to, so we went out into the community and to congregate living settings and really took our show on the road to make sure that we could get those vaccines in arms within the timeframe that New York state had set for us.”
Since then, the hospital has received regular allocations of the vaccine and has been holding community PODs — point of dispensing. They’ve had several now, according to Ms. Sorrell, having moved about 1,000 vaccines since the start.
The key is knowing the community, contacting those who are eligible rather than making them try to navigate online systems and putting them in the systems. For those who are homebound, the hospital’s vaccination team will go to their homes to make sure they receive their vaccines.
Another helper in the county’s vaccination efforts, SUNY Potsdam, hit a milestone last week. In the last six weeks, the university has administered more than 30,000 vaccines, according to SUNY Chancellor Jim J. Malatras, who made a statement about the site Tuesday.
The university transformed its field house inside Maxcy Hall into a mass vaccination site, marking the opening of the first public site in St. Lawrence County and deemed a New York state vaccination site Jan. 12. The site is run under a partnership between the St. Lawrence Health System, SUNY Potsdam, the St. Lawrence County Board of Health and New York state.
“Six weeks since SUNY Potsdam administered its first vaccine, the college has now surpassed a significant milestone of 30,000 vaccinations,” Chancellor Malatras said. “… across New York State, SUNY campuses have stepped up to help their communities and now we’re on the path toward defeating this vicious virus for good.”
About 10 million New Yorkers are eligible to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, including health workers, first responders, teachers, people with comorbidities and residents aged 65 and older.
To determine if you are eligible to schedule an appointment to be vaccinated, use the state’s Am I Eligible tool at am-i-eligible-qa.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).