TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Tompkins County has received 700 more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which will be allocated to grocery and P-12 school workers, who are in the Phase 1B category of prioritization.

Crucially, the county said that “previously prioritized groups in 1B have been successfully reached and doses have been offered to a majority of the eligible population. Additional availability will be offered to these groups in future weeks and as supply increases.”

The Tompkins County Health Department has collected a list of bodegas, grocery stores and convenience stores and will be contacting them directly. Owners who have not heard from the health department can contact the health department via covid19vaccines@tompkins-co.org.

Specifically, the newly prioritized populations include the following:

P-12 Schools

  • P-12 school (public or non-public) or school district faculty or staff (includes all teachers, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, and support staff including bus drivers)
  • Contractor working in a P-12 school (public or non-public) or school district (including contracted bus drivers)
  • Licensed, registered, approved or legally exempt group childcare

Grocery Stores

  • Public Facing Grocery Store Workers, including convenience stores and bodegas

There remain issues with the supply chain from the federal and state government, limiting the total amount of vaccine doses available in the county, which is why the county is not yet expanding eligibility to populations such as restaurant workers, taxi drivers and those people with developmental disabilities (though people with disabilities who live in congregate living facilities have been offered the vaccine). According to the health department, as eligibility expands they will still prioritize people over 65 “who are at the highest risk.”

As has been reported, Feb. 15 will signal the beginning of vaccinations for people with comorbidities at state-run vaccine facilities, of which there are none in Tompkins County. Tompkins County residents are still eligible to sign up for vaccine appointments if they are eligible at sites outside of the county—there is no county residence requirement. Pharmacies are still prioritizing people over the age of 65.

“There continues to be a limited supply of available vaccine, the State has continued to indicate that we will have a steady distribution over the coming weeks, and we are planning accordingly,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “We continue to have strong capacity for vaccine administration in partnership with Cayuga Health System. This week, we are locally prioritizing grocery and P-12 school workers in phase 1b. We will continue to communicate with the eligible populations directly.”

According to the state, the list of eligible comorbidities includes the following. A doctor’s letter, medical information evidencing comorbidity or signed certification are required.

  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease

Matt Butler

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