TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—New York State’s mask mandate is ending May 19, meaning fully vaccinated people no longer have to socially distance or wear a mask at most indoor and outdoor occasions. With anyone over 12 now eligible to receive the vaccine, the Tompkins County Health Department is scheduling three vaccination clinics to maintain its push for higher vaccination rates even as the state reopens.

Those under 18 who want the vaccine must have a parent or guardian accompany them. The three clinics are scheduled at the following times, and have varying eligibilities:

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Dryden School District

  • Wednesday, May 19 from 3:30pm – 7:30pm
  • 12 years and older
  • Registration link will be shared by the school district
  • Call 211 (1-877-211-8667) during business hours, 8:30AM-5:00PM for assistance registering and for transportation options.

Newfield School District

  • Thursday, May 20 from 3:30pm – 7:30pm
  • 12 years and older
  • Registration link will be shared by the school district
  • Call 211 (1-877-211-8667) during business hours, 8:30AM-5:00PM for assistance registering and for transportation options.

While private businesses are still allowed to require masks for entrance, most mask mandates will now only apply to those who are unvaccinated. It also seems increasingly likely that COVID-19 vaccinations are relatively effective at greatly reducing transmission of the virus as well, in addition to making the body better able to avoid severe symptoms.

“Consistent with the CDC guidance, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will continue to follow State’s existing COVID-19 health guidelines including distancing and mask wearing until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated,” said the health department. “Private businesses may still require masks for everyone in their establishments, consistent with the CDC guidance. Unvaccinated people should still wear masks in all settings while around others.”

“Over the next few weeks, we are prioritizing the vaccination of young people in our community, ages 12 years and up, who were not previously eligible to receive the vaccine,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa. “This expansion will provide another layer of protection for our community and will be critical to the further re-opening of schools. I want to thank Cayuga Health and the school districts for partnering on this effort.”

Info from the health department:

Additional information about the Pfizer vaccine can be found on the Health Department website, including the FDA Fact Sheet.

Individuals without computer and/or internet access may also call 2-1-1 (877-211-8667) during regular business hours 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and someone can register them over the phone.

NYS State-run Vaccination Sites are currently offering Pfizer vaccine to this age group. Appointments can be scheduled on the NYS Department of Health website.

Hesitant, unsure, or have questions about the vaccines? TCHD will be hosting two COVID-19 Vaccine Q&A “Office Hours” next week on Tuesday, May 18th. “Office Hours” are a series of virtual Vaccine Q&A live streams produced by TCHD in partnership with local physicians and community members. Each event is designed to offer a safe space and informative experience for attendees seeking more information on COVID-19 vaccines. Each event is moderated by a member of the community or TCHD staff and will focus on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Attendees will be able to ask questions live or anonymously. Some sessions will be recorded for later viewing and archived on the County’s YouTube Channel.

Vaccine Q&A for parents and caregivers (Live)

  • Tuesday, May 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Guest practitioners: Dr. Snedeker, Northeast Pediatrics and Dr. Casey, Buttermilk Falls Pediatrics
  • Vaccinating children, and questions related the vaccine and fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding
  • Register for the event here. Registration required to ask questions live or anonymously. Some sessions may be recorded and available on the county’s YouTube Channel.

Matt Butler

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