TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Many residents of Tompkins County, much like basically everywhere else, are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

But, at least right now, officials are still unsure of when that can happen, even for frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents and employees—the populations that are being prioritized in the vaccination schedule. The date could be soon, though, with more vaccines beginning to successfully navigate the approval process.

The first vaccine shipments began in New York State on Dec. 15, after the Pfizer vaccine was approved both by the federal government and by a specially appointed board of physicians in New York. It’s been projected that the vaccines, which require two doses three weeks apart, would be widely available for the public in spring or summer 2021.

When the vaccinations do come to Tompkins County, Cayuga Health Systems is expected to take the lead on distribution, maintaining the leadership role they have had for much of the pandemic, especially considering their expansive COVID-19 sampling system. Hospital officials did express optimism in a comment Friday, though, as another vaccine was approved by the federal government.

“We have not been shipped any vaccine yet or received word when we will,” Cayuga Medical Center spokesperson John Turner said. “Moderna was just approved so hopefully we will hear something next week.”

It was announced by New York State that the Southern Tier region would receive 4,500 of the 170,000 vaccine doses that would be distributed. It’s been reported that United Health Services is in charge of the vaccination distribution effort, meaning they will be in charge of bringing the vaccine doses to Tompkins County before they are actually administered.

Requests for comment and clarification from United Health Services have not yet been answered. This story will be updated if those requests are answered.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at