Kinney Drugs in Ithaca (Courtesy of Kinney Drugs)

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—As part of a 10 week pilot program, Kinney Drugs will be working with the statewide Office for the Aging and Association for the Aging to establish vaccination clinics for senior citizens—those 65 and over. Telephone assistance will be provided for scheduling purposes for the clinics.

The clinics will begin in the second week of March, however locally in Tompkins County logistics are still being worked out for a start date so the first clinic will be held later. Those interested should contact their local Office For the Aging to schedule appointments, though as mentioned, Tompkins County will not have appointments immediately, as their start dates will be announced at a later time. Tompkins County is one of 21 counties being included in the program, which also includes nearby Cayuga County, Seneca County, Cortland County, Onondaga County and more.

The phone number for the Tompkins County Office for the Aging is (607) 274-5482, and by calling that now those over 65 can place themselves on the COVID-19 vaccination registry through the county health department. Once on that registry, people will be notified when appointments are available.

The Tompkins County Health Department has previously been working with Titus Towers and McGraw House leadership to prioritize vaccinations for senior citizens with comorbidities. Kinney has been providing vaccinations to those over 65, regardless of comorbidities, since January.

“To date, COVID-19 vaccination appointments have been available almost exclusively through online scheduling systems,” the announcement said. “As a result, seniors who have challenges accessing and/or using technology have been unable to secure COVID-19 vaccination appointments statewide. The pilot program will test a simple and practical solution aimed at filling the gap. Together, Kinney, the Association on Aging in NY and local Offices for the Aging will provide this much-needed service for some of the most vulnerable people.”

The full list of counties is as follows: Cayuga, Clinton, Cortland, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Tompkins, Warren and Wayne.

“Securing a vaccination appointment is often too burdensome, especially for seniors who aren’t technologically savvy,” said John Marraffa, the VP of Healthcare Services Integration for KPH Healthcare Services. “Many do not have a caretaker to help them navigate this process, so it’s important that we assist these seniors in securing a vaccine. Being an already vulnerable population, they need us to be there for them. Bringing vaccines closer to their communities will be critical to protecting them against this virus and eventually ending this pandemic.”

“We are proud to partner with the Association on Aging. Our pharmacists and team members continue to be there for our communities every step of the way, and this is one more way we can help those who need it most during this unprecedented time. As an employee-owned organization, we are proud to provide these immunizations and serve in this capacity,” said Rebecca Bubel, RPh, President of Kinney Drugs.

Matt Butler

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