County struggling to meet demand

GENESEO - For administrators and health officials in Livingston County the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is greater than the available supply.

“When there is a two or three times demand on what the supply is, that will be a challenge at least for the next few weeks,” said Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle.

During a Zoom meeting Monday, Coyle came together with Livingston County Director of Public Health Jennifer Rodriguez to answer questions and talk about why they are facing challenges with getting the vaccine out to people.

“Certainly we were not expecting the Governors announcement to go into 1B population. That would be public safety, police, educators and since Friday’s announcement he has expanded that list a little bit to include grocery store and any type of public inter-facing workers.

Also that would include higher education, so our local college professors would be included in 1B,” said Rodriguez.

Making it challenging to serve those who still need the vaccine verses those who want it.

“We were expecting a bit longer of a time lapse before moving into the 1B eligibility, so that created a bit of a hiccup. It is really based on supply and demand but we are hoping to work through that,” said Rodriguez.

So far about 48% of the health care workers in Livingston County have received the vaccine. That equates to about 2500 doses.

“Based on the availability that we have now the county health department is still working on 1A and we will be transition to 1B as we get more vaccine allocations,” said Rodriguez.

Currently Livingston County has 270 active COVID-19 cases, 30 deaths, 15 hospitalization and one person is in ICU.

Leading to more community spread and more health care workers being impacted.

“That community spread leads to it spreading into congregate care facilities, such as group come and public nursing homes.

At this time 19 of our staff have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. We also have another dozen who have a connection to it, so we have 31 people from our staff that are out of work at this time,” said Coyle.

To help more people get the vaccine Rodriguez says pharmacy’s across New York State will be offering a toll free line for people to call to make a reservation and she also says they will going into schools to give the vaccine to educators but

part of the problem Coyle says has been keeping up with the supply of the vaccine, for the growing demand of people that want it.

“What we don’t want to do is set up a clinic for a shipment that does not come. We want to avoid having people sign up and then having to turn them away. We don’t want to schedule anything until we know the number of supply coming in and then be able to schedule those next couple of rounds,” said Coyle.

Another problem is, even when the vaccine is ordered sometimes it does not arrive on time and that can make for a challenging distribution.

“The distribution was also a challenge meaning when is the vaccine going to arrive and when can we have people start to come in.

For this week we have been advised that it could be a 2 or 3 day delay.

So we are expecting another shipment later this week or early next week,” said Rodriguez.

It something that local officials are pleading with local residents to be patient with.

“I just ask the residents to be patient.

Just the phase 1B as a segment, in a conservative estimate was pushing it to April for a full availability based on the numbers of who was going to be providing what.

You have some places across the state saying please stop calling because that new announcement, while it was well intentioned has let to a rash of calls and questions,” said Coyle.

Coyle says anyone needing questions answered can call the Health Department at anyime. However for the most updated information Rodriguez is asking people to check the County Health Department’s Website or New York State’s Website and to not assume just because an announcement was made, that people can immediately get the vaccine.

“Certainly that perception that the Governor made an announcement and I am 78 years old and I should be able to go out in my County and get the vaccine at a moments notice, unfortunately is not the reality.

We are trying to temper the expectation down a bit and be honest with people that as soon as we get it, we will get it out the door to people,” said Coyle.

And even if they get the vaccine Rodriguez says social distancing rules still need to be followed.

“We do continue our daily rapid testing clinic and even though you have the vaccine, you still need to wear a mask.

We are seeing a lot of household spread, where the entire household ends up getting COVID,” said Rodriguez.

To help keep people up to date Coyle along with Rodriguez says they could be holding more zoom meetings in the near future but admit the next few weeks of getting the vaccine out to all those who need it, could be difficult.

“We just want to continue roll into the next phase but you can not do it when you have nothing to vaccinate with and that is the current challenge that we have.

Until we get an answer we can only tell people this is roughly what you can expect, not this is exactly what you can expect,” said Coyle.

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