‘It Went Very Well’: Over 250 Putnam County Health Care Workers Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Putnam County Commissioner of Health administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Kathy Percacciolo, PCDOH Supervising Public Health Nurse at the Carmel Friendship Center on Thursday Jan. 7. Photo Courtesy of Putnam County.

After Putnam County received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines this week, the Department of Health successfully vaccinated 251 people on Thursday.

During the county’s first vaccination drive, pre-approved individuals lined up between noon and 3 p.m. at the Carmel Friendship Center on Old Route 6 in Carmel to receive the first of the two-dose vaccine. On Tuesday, the county health department received 600 Moderna shots.

The Moderna vaccine requires a second dose 28 days after the first.

Due to the limited supply, those working in facilities run by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Addition Services and Support were the first to receive the vaccine.  

“This was our first time out of the gate, and it went very well,” County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “The health department started small in order to work out the details involved in inoculating large numbers of people in the midst of a pandemic.” 

After receiving the shot, Odell said health officials monitored symptoms for 15 minutes at the center, or POD as it’s being referred to, to ensure no one showed adverse symptoms to the vaccine.

In accordance with the state’s phased approach, priority was given to a broad group of health care workers and those living in nursing homes or other congregate care. Currently, a limited supply of the immunization has also been given to county pharmacies, urgent cares, health centers and hospitals, Odell said.

“The vaccinations are the easy part,” Kathy Percacciolo, PCDOH Supervising Public Health Nurse said. “Sometimes the logistics can interfere with implementation— as we have seen happen in other places. Fortunately, in Putnam County we are experienced in running PODs and today’s POD went off without a hitch.”

Health officials will hold a second POD on Monday for the same population group at the Carmel Friendship Center.

Those approved for vaccination during New York State, Phase 1A include:

  • High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff)
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate care facilities
  • Federally Qualified Health Center employees
  • EMS workers
  • Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers
  • Staff and residents at OPWDD, OMH and OASAS facilities
  • Urgent Care providers
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff
  • All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care
  • All staff who are in direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff)
  • All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • This includes, but is not limited to,
    • Doctors who work in private medical practices and their staff 
    • Doctors who work in hospital-affiliated medical practices and their staff
    • Doctors who work in public health clinics and their staff
    • Registered Nurses
    • Specialty medical practices of all types
    • Dentists and Orthodontists and their staff
    • Psychiatrists and Psychologists and their staff
    • Physical Therapists and their staff
    • Optometrists and their staff
    • Pharmacists and Pharmacy Aides
    • Home care workers
    • Hospice workers

The state has not released detailed plans for the next phase, Phase 1B, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it will cover 2.5 million people and include essential workers and those 75-years-old or older.

Officials said the health department is prepared to vaccinate more residents and employees as the vaccine roll-out progresses.

The Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health advise those who have had COVID-19 to wait 90 days before getting vaccinated. Recipients of convalescent plasma must also wait 90 days. Individuals on quarantine cannot attend a vaccination POD.

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