TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—The first wave of demographic statistics for those who have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was released last night, showing the race and ethnicity breakdown of the 16,337 Tompkins County residents who have received at least the first dose of the vaccination.

Judging by the last recorded census, that means about 16 percent of county residents have been vaccinated so far, the majority of whom have received the vaccination through the COVID-19 mass vaccination site. That number could accelerate soon, as Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said he expects the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine to start arriving locally next week.

“We’re soon going to be in a situation where we have more vaccine than people that want it,” Kruppa said in his presentation. In order to reach herd immunity in Tompkins County, Kruppa said that 75,000 county residents (or about 75 percent of the total population) would have to be vaccinated.

The figures, reported last night to the Tompkins County Legislature, include residents who have traveled to a state-operated site as well as nursing home residents, which explains why they are significantly higher than the number that the Tompkins County Health Department has reported as vaccinated in their daily updates.

Considering the population of Tompkins County is about 81 percent white, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of recipients in Tompkins County have been white, to the tune of 11,809, or 72.3 percent of the total first doses, though Kruppa warned against putting too much weight on that number because of the limitations on distribution that have been laid out so far. Beyond that, 421 people identified as Asian, 332 identified as Black or African American, 27 as American Indian or Alaska Native, and 6 as native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

Additionally, 1,547 recipients identified as another race, and 2,195 people did not respond when asked about their race. Age statistics were not released by the health department.

Kruppa explained that it’s erroneous to draw concrete conclusions about availability and access because the state has limited who is eligible to sign up and receive a vaccine. Once supply allows the county to reach the oft-mentioned threshold of “anyone who wants a vaccine can get one,” the information will be more useful.

“We can’t compare this against the population numbers, like we do the testing demographics, because the vaccinations have been for certain groups, eligible workers and such, so it’s not a one-for-one with the population to be able to draw any conclusions about percentage comparisons,” Kruppa said. “Hopefully as we move through this and we’re able to open to anyone that wants a vaccine, we’ll be able to make some of those direct comparisons to the population.”

Otherwise, the Tompkins County Legislature applauded the establishment of the Vaccine Registry, for which 8,500 have enrolled themselves.

Matt Butler

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