TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—As of Monday, April 12, Tompkins County has officially reached the 50 percent threshold of COVID-19 vaccination, as 51 percent of residents have now received at least the first shot of their vaccination schedule.

According to the New York State COVID-19 vaccine tracker, 52,389 Tompkins County residents have received at least the first vaccine shot, of the county’s total 102,793 residents. As stated above, that equals 51 percent, the highest in the state for a county with over 5,000 residents (smaller Hamilton County is at 60 percent).

It’s difficult to tell how many of those people are considered fully vaccinated, since the statistics are not differentiated between who has received the first (and only) Johnson & Johnson vaccination and who has received at least the first Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, both of which require a second shot to achieve immunization. The state’s statistics do show that 29,690 people in the county have a “completed Vaccine series.”

The rate of vaccinations, at least those administered by the Tompkins County Health Department, has clearly increased over the last several weeks as well. On Feb. 12, 8,406 people had received at least their first vaccination through TCHD, with 5,246 of them being fully vaccinated. On March 12, that number had risen to 13,795 and 8,106, respectively. Today, those numbers have nearly doubled over the last month, sitting at 24,377 and 15,500, respectively.

These numbers do not reflect the total number of people who have received the vaccine, since the state’s figure of 52,389 includes people who have visited one of the several state-operated sites around New York. The floodgates should be fully open, per se, as all New Yorkers over 16 years old are now eligible to schedule appointments to receive vaccinations (and locally, as well), though only Pfizer’s has been approved for people over 16 but under 18.

The 50 percent benchmark seems encouraging, but simultaneously shows that there’s still a significant way to go. The Tompkins County Health Department has made it their goal to vaccinate 100 percent of county residents who are physically able to receive it, though that seems unlikely. Herd immunity, though, is said to be attainable with a 75 percent vaccination rate.

“We continue to be successful administering the vaccine in Tompkins County, and we’re encouraging 100 percent of those who are eligible to get vaccinated,” said Public Health Director Frank Kruppa in mid-March regarding the progress to that point. “Even though the vaccines are incredibly effective, scientists are still working to confirm whether you can spread the disease once fully vaccinated. Therefore, everyone must continue to wear a mask and keep distance from one another in public, and avoid crowds—this is critical to protect the most vulnerable until we can achieve herd immunity.”

Matt Butler

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