January 25, 2021

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Westchester County Center Named Vaccination Hub

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WESTCHESTER, NY — State health officials have designated the Westchester County Center as a regional...

WESTCHESTER, NY — State health officials have designated the Westchester County Center as a regional hub where newly eligible people can receive the coronavirus vaccine —starting in mid-February.

According to the new state appointments website that directs people now eligible under New York’s phase 1b to the County Center in White Plains, no appointments were still available in January.

People were rapidly making appointments Monday. At noon, there were hundreds of appointment slots open for Feb. 14; however, as of 1:08 p.m., no slots remained open and just 41 slots were available for Feb. 17.

Federal supply severely limits state health officials’ ability to get New Yorkers vaccinated, as New York state is only being sent 300,000 doses a week.

So New Yorkers are encouraged to remain patient and be prepared to receive an appointment date as far as 14 weeks in the future.

New York’s vast distribution network and the more than 4 million people who are now eligible to receive the vaccine dwarf the supply coming from the federal government, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Still, four weeks into vaccine distribution, the expansion of eligibility for additional New Yorkers is “a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cuomo said at a briefing Monday.

Anyone can check to see if they are eligible on a state website.

Another section of the state website directs people who are currently eligible to locations where they can schedule appointments for the vaccination, which requires two doses. Also, beginning at 4 p.m. on Monday, state health officials will open the COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline for scheduling vaccination appointments for eligible New Yorkers: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).

Who’s eligible? New York State is distributing the coronavirus vaccine in phases based on need and risk. As of Monday, Jan. 11, New Yorkers in Phase 1a and segments of Phase 1b were at the top of the state’s priority list, following guidance from the federal Centers and Disease Control.

That includes the 1.4 million New Yorkers age 75 and over, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, public safety workers and public-facing grocery store workers, as well as doctors, nurses and health care workers.

Many of the public employees now eligible, for example, police departments, public school teachers and MTA employees, will be vaccinated through their groups’ relevant health programs or as organized by their unions.

Health care workers will continue to be vaccinated at hospitals and other clinical settings. The state is working to supplement that effort.

Residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will continue to be vaccinated through a federal program, which the state is providing resources to accelerate.

People age 75 and over will primarily be vaccinated at pharmacies and places like the Westchester County Center, sites that are part of the network of vaccine distributors state health officials have now set up.

Prior to receiving the vaccination, you must complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form. This form can be completed online and you will receive a submission ID. Alternatively, you can fill out the form at your vaccination site.

No one will be vaccinated without an appointment.

Anyone with a vaccination scheduled must bring proof of eligibility to the vaccination appointment. This may include an employee ID card, a letter from an employer or affiliated organization, or a pay stub, depending on the specific priority status.

The new network of vaccine distributors is using doctors’ offices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, county health departments, ambulatory centers and pharmacies to get doses in the arms of eligible New Yorkers.

Providers across the state will begin accepting vaccination reservations on Monday now that the centralized state website that lists nearby providers where appointments can be scheduled is up and running.

Pharmacies will be provided vaccines for New Yorkers aged 75 and older, while hospitals will continue vaccinating 1a healthcare workers, and local health departments and union-organized efforts will serve essential workers in 1b.

More than 1,200 pharmacies have already committed to participating in this network, with nearly 500 scheduled to begin this week, state health officials said.

Additionally, the NY Department of Health is setting up 20 mass distribution sites throughout the state over the next several weeks to support all categories of eligibility. Opening on Wednesday:

  • Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan

  • Westchester County Convention Center in partnership with the county Health Department and Westchester Medical Center

  • State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County

Additional sites will be launched in the days to come.

Cuomo also proposed the launch of the nation’s first public health corps to support New York’s effort to vaccinate nearly 20 million people. Meanwhile, eligible New Yorkers are urged to become vaccinators.

For more information, check out the FAQ on the state’s website.

This article originally appeared on the White Plains Patch

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