Putnam County reported last week that more than 30,000 residents have been vaccinated and officials, along with the majority of residents, hope the momentum of mass vaccination continues.
On Tuesday, eligibility expanded to include any resident at least 16 years old. This expansion comes a week after the age eligibility was lowered to 30.
Residents under 18 should be sure to schedule an appointment with a provider that has received the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for ages 16 and up. Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have earned FDA approval for 18 and over only.
“Vaccination is our path to recovery for ourselves, our family and friends, our businesses and our community,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who recently received her COVID vaccine at a Putnam County Department of Health clinic in Brewster. “It is no secret that this pandemic has taken its toll, not just in terms of illness and death, but also with grave effects for our mental health and well-being, and an enormous toll on our livelihood and our business community. The fastest route to a full recovery is with high numbers of people getting vaccinated.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat said it is also promising that results from Pfizer’s recent study show the vaccine is safe and effective for children age 12 and up.
“Share your vaccine story. Hearing about a smooth and safe vaccination appointment can help friends and family members see that the overall experience, which may include some mild side effects, is well worth the expected outcome – personal health and a pathway to an even better normal,” he said.
Studies have shown that people are strongly influenced by health advice from family and friends. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, trusted friends and family members are the second most valued source of health information for Americans after consulting a health professional.
Michael Piazza, commissioner of social services and mental health, highlighted the effects on residents’ emotional well-being and mental health.
“The local mental health community remains concerned about the number of people experiencing anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic,” Piazza said. “The continued use of alcohol and other drugs, especially opiates, is also of great concern. Given that the COVID pandemic has now lasted more than a year, this is not unexpected. Widespread vaccination and what is called herd immunity can have a clear impact on improving all of these conditions.”
Myths, rumors and misinformation circulate widely via social media and other less reputable sources, and all of these add to the stress and anxiety levels in a community. Anti-vaxxers in particular have found an easy, far-reaching platform on social media networking sites for dispersing many of these untruths.
“Two of the most common suspicions I have heard raised in the early questions about the vaccines relate to their high rate of efficacy and the speed with which they were developed,” Nesheiwat said. “Both these positive facts are related to the mRNA technology used to develop the two-dose vaccines. The truth is that this way of creating a vaccine has been studied for over a decade and has been used in highly successful cancer vaccines being developed and studied. And when the pandemic began, the scientific community foresaw the dangers ahead and pulled out all stops to develop a safe vaccine.”
For information on eligibility and vaccination sites, the public may call 1-833-697-4829 or visit https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/