TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department today announced that they are asking eligible people to fill out a registry form that will allow the health department to directly contact them each time a new batch of COVID-19 vaccination doses become available.

The registry signals probably the largest forward step in local accessibility to the vaccine, at least in terms of knowing when to sign up for appointments and when those appointments are available. People who are eligible for the vaccine already are the target population, so that they may be notified when there is another group of vaccination doses in the county. Caregivers, family members or friends of eligible people can complete the form on their behalf. The form is available here.

The registry is not to notify someone when they become eligible, but only for eligible individuals to know when they may actually be able to receive their first shot and begin the vaccination process, which requires two shots for the most effective immunity. As eligibility expands, more people will be able to join the registry.

“This registry is to aid TCHD in ongoing planning for a more adaptable and efficient distribution of the vaccine in Tompkins County,” said the department in its release. “Eligible individuals should continue to seek available vaccine appointments through pharmacies and state-run sites if they are able. This registry does not replace those processes. TCHD continues to encourage 100 percent of eligible individuals to get the vaccine when they are able.”

Eligible people can be registered over the phone by calling 2-1-1 or (877-211-8667) as well. If someone indicates that they do not have internet access, they can also be contacted via phone to schedule them for a vaccination appointment when possible—though an appointment is not guaranteed by joining the registry.

Individuals who fill out the registry form can expect a confirmation email from covid19vaccines@tompkins-co.org, but should not call the health department themselves looking for their place on the list. According to the department, the registry will be used to assess demand, communicate with eligible populations and examine transportation needs to increase equitable access.

“This registry will help us identify the demand in the different priority groups and help us directly communicate with eligible populations,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We need everyone in our community to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. We recognize there continues to be some confusion and difficulty finding vaccine appointments, and it is our hope that this will be a useful tool for TCHD to make this process more efficient and adaptable for the community.”

If you are not currently eligible for the vaccine, TCHD is encouraging you to sign up to receive email updates. TCHD will invite more individuals to join the registry as eligibility expands.

Matt Butler

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