ITHACA, N.Y.—As the Tompkins County Health Department continues to aim for a wider distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, there will be walk-in appointments available for one of the first times locally on Thursday, April 29 from 1-3 p.m. at the mass vaccination clinic at the Shops at Ithaca Mall, which is operated by Cayuga Health Systems and the health department.

There is no pre-registration necessary, those interested can simply stroll into the clinic during that time frame and receive a shot. The Johnson & Johnson vaccination is being used during this clinic, so only people 18 and up will be allowed to participate. The only required materials to bring are a photo ID and a health insurance card if you have one (though there is no co-pay and the shot is free of charge even if someone doesn’t have insurance).

There are still, of course, appointments available for people who do wish to pre-register. Register for an appointment time here: https://tompkinscountyny.gov/health/covid19popup#mall.

“Following a review of all available data about the J&J vaccine, the CDC and FDA approved use stating that the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh its risks,” wrote the health department. “Women younger than 50 years old should be aware of the rare but increased risk of this adverse event for that age group; there are other COVID-19 vaccine options available for which this risk has not been seen. The safety of all COVID-19 vaccines is monitored by local, State, and federal officials and agencies.”

For three weeks after receiving the J&J vaccine, you should be on the lookout for possible symptoms of a blood clot with low platelets. Seek medical care right away if you develop one or more of these symptoms:  

  • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision  
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Chest pain  
  • Leg swelling  
  • Persistent abdominal pain  
  • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site 

Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “We are continuing to make vaccines more accessible and convenient for our community. As we approach 60 percent of our community being vaccinated, we will do everything that we can to make sure that everyone has access. I anticipate that this is the first of many walk-in clinics, vaccines are for everyone and we want to make sure that everyone who is able can get their shot as soon as possible.”  

Kruppa continued, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, we want people—especially women between the ages of 18-50—to monitor for any symptoms of blood clots, but we know that adverse events have been extremely rare across the entire country, millions of Americans have received this vaccine safely.”

As an added bonus, the YMCA of Ithaca is offering a one-month membership free of charge with proof of vaccination received from the clinic today.  

Matt Butler

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