TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The Tompkins County Health Department has announced that they will hold a series of Q&A sessions on the COVID-19 vaccine with the intention of spreading the word to the community and fielding questions from people about the safety of receiving the vaccination, attempting to reach people from a variety of backgrounds.

Questions can be asked openly or anonymously. The COVID-19 vaccination logistics webpage remains up here. Certain sessions will be recorded and posted on the county’s YouTube page.

Directly from the health department, here are the sessions that are going to be offered. Registrations are available at the corresponding links that are included.

  • General COVID-19 Vaccine Office Hour, open session for all community members with questions and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine about the vaccine, Tuesday, February 9, 12 p.m.
    • Hosted by Dr. Kathryn Rooth, Cayuga Medical Center
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Office Hour, open session to answer questions and concerns from people of color about the vaccine, Wednesday, February 10, 12 p.m.
    • Hosted by Dr. Jada Hamilton, Cornell Health
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Office Hour, open session hosted by REACH Medical for community members with concerns about the vaccine. This mission of REACH is to serve individuals with respectful, equitable, access to compassionate healthcare in a setting where they will not be stigmatized or judged based on drug use, homelessness, or any other issue that may cause less than adequate care in today’s healthcare environment, Tuesday, February 16, 12 p.m.
    • Hosted by Dr. Judy Griffin & Dr. Elizabeth Ryan, REACH Medical
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Office Hour, open session to answer questions and concerns from those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or parents/guardians about the vaccine & children, Wednesday, February 17, 12 p.m.
    • Hosted by Dr. Audrey DeSilva & Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker, Northeast Pediatrics
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Office Hour, for Catholic Charities Immigration Services with translation for Karen/Burmese speakers, Wednesday, February 17, 2 p.m.; Contact Roe Si at Catholic Charities for registration details: (607) 272-5062; Roe.Si@dor.org
  • Hosted by Tompkins County Health Department Community Health Nurses: Melissa Gatch, Karen LaCelle, & Celeste Rakovich

There are additional sessions being planned for: more communities of color, Spanish language, Mandarin, older and younger adults and military veterans.

Tompkins County and Cayuga Health System officials have consistently touted the efficacy of the various approved vaccines, and continued to do so in their announcement, with words from both Public Health Director Frank Kruppa and Chief Equity and Diversity Officer for the county, Deanna Carrithers.

“The vaccine is one of the best tools we have to stop this disease from spreading in our community,” Kruppa said. “Vaccines are for everyone and are designed to protect us all. We realize that some people are hesitant to receive the vaccine, and we invite you to ask questions of local health experts so that everyone has timely and accurate information. In addition to the information that we are making available to everyone, it is our goal to create spaces specifically for people of color in our communities who have historically been marginalized by the healthcare system. We invite everyone who is interested to join us for these office hours.”

Carrithers stated, “This effort by the Health Department will offer a valuable bridge to many communities. We have heard from people from different backgrounds who are seeking more information and expressing concern that systems like the healthcare system do not serve their needs or populations. These ‘office hours’ will give physicians and community leaders the opportunity to answer questions, respond to concerns, and clarify the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.”

Matt Butler

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