TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Healthcare workers and other eligible individuals may now receive the COVID-19 vaccination during three separate clinics that the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Health Systems have established for a site at the Shops at Ithaca Mall.

The clinics, which will have 1,800 doses available, will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 7 from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. and Friday, Jan. 8 from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Those eligible to receive the vaccine currently are primarily high-risk hospital staff, nursing facility workers, nursing home residents and more (full list below).

To register, those interested can go to the health department’s newly established vaccine information page, where further information is added as vaccination criteria expands. As a reminder, more vaccination information is expected to be available via town hall session on Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 4 p.m. Those with more immediate questions can email covid19vaccines@tompkins-co.org.

“We are ready to start rolling this vaccine out to thousands of Tompkins County residents. While the process for developing these vaccines may seem fast, a significant and thorough scientific review was instituted following years of research on coronaviruses, and the Public Health community is confident that this vaccine is safe and effective,” Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve used every tool in our toolkit to stop the spread, this is one of the most crucial to keep you, your family, and our community healthy and safe – if you are eligible and medically able, we need you to register and get vaccinated. I want to ease any concerns people may have that they are going to miss their vaccine or that they are not on a list of who needs the vaccine. We all need the vaccine, but there is an intentional phased distribution that the State has set up. We will do everything we can to make sure you know when it is your time to get vaccinated, but we ask that everyone be patient and continue to check our website and local media for updates.”

Phase 1A eligibility (ongoing):

  • High-risk hospital staff, affiliates, volunteers and contract staff, following the clinical risk assessment guidance
  • High-risk hospital staff including State-operated OMH psychiatric centers
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel
  • Medical Examiners and Coroners
  • Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids
  • Agency staff and residents in congregate living situations run by the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).
  • Health care or other high-risk direct care essential staff working in LTCFs and long-term, congregate settings overseen by OPWDD, OMH and OASAS
  • Persons living in LTCFs and in long-term congregate settings overseen by OPWDD and OMH
  • High-risk hospital and FQHC staff, including OMH psychiatric centers
  • Urgent Care providers
  • Any staff administering COVID-19 Vaccinations

Phase 1A Eligibility Beginning Week of 1/4/2021:

  • All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care, or other staff in a position in which they have direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff), will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

o   This includes, but is not limited to, individuals who work in private medical practices; hospital-affiliated medical practices; public health clinics; specialty medical practices of all types; dental practices of all types; dialysis workers; diagnostic and treatment centers; occupational therapists; physical therapists; speech therapists; phlebotomists; behavioral health workers; and student health workers.

  • All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations, will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Home care workers and aides, including personal care aides and consumer-directed personal care workers
  • Hospice workers
  • Staff of and residents of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and adult care facilities who did not receive COVID vaccination through the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program

The announcement comes the day after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus in Saratoga Springs, New York, the first documented case in the state. It had previously been found in dozens of other countries, particularly the United Kingdom, as well as California. Details of the variant are still a bit unclear, although it has been reported to be far more contagious and transmissible than the original strain that has wrought havoc for the last 10 months in America.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com