On Monday, January 11, individuals 65 and older, first responders, public safety workers, educators, transit employees and more, became eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine as members of group 1b in New York State’s vaccine rollout plan. This group comprises 20 percent of the Ulster County population, according to County Executive Pat Ryan. While Ulster has prepared vaccination locations, it has not received enough vaccines to schedule anything past this Thursday.
“It’s a very well-run operation,” said Ryan at the Tuesday briefing. “The challenge and not so good news is demand for the vaccine is far higher than the supply we have right now. It’s a challenge for us in Ulster County and everyone in New York State and the country. It’s a difficult ask but I will have to continue to ask for your patience.”
Ulster’s main “point of dispensing” is the Kate Walton Field House at Kingston High School, which is operating between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. when vaccines are available. The vaccination distribution is staffed by around 100 volunteer doctors and nurses among others. The site allows for up to 1,500 doses per day.
For this week, Ulster County only received a total of 1,200 vaccines. Ryan said that 480 appointments were made for Monday and another 480 for Tuesday. Before the 1,200 vaccines for this week, Ulster received 4,300 since mid-December.
“It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to see quite clearly that with 180,000 plus residents, those numbers are just nowhere near where we need to be to rapidly get this out, and equitably, across the county,” said Ryan at the briefing.
The second point of dispensing will be at the Ellenville Regional Hospital. However, due to lack of doses, it isn’t certain when appointments will begin being accepted for that location.
Ryan said the problem is federal.
“We are all echoing at every level and county an urgent plea for the federal government to do everything they can to get more vaccines to everyone down on the ground and of course here in Ulster County,” said Ryan at the briefing.
According to Ryan, New York State is only receiving 300,000 doses per week, which needs to be allocated to millions eligible across the state.
In Ulster, 14,000 residents have signed up for its vaccine notification request. The sign-up isn’t for an appointment, but rather to be updated and to receive regular communication about when one can make an appointment. Ryan said Ulster County has 15,000 individuals who fit into the 1A eligibility group and 36,000 who fit into the newly eligible group 1B.
“Everyone is doing their best with the limited supply and we’re going to need to continue to have patience and we will communicate with you all throughout this process,” said Ryan at the briefing. “I am optimistic that the speed and the pace pick up as the supply chain gets better at the national level. Right now, we can only commit to distributing to what we know we are going to get in the spirit of setting those expectations.”
Assistant Deputy County Executive Dan Torres reported that there have been no serious side effects from anyone who received the vaccine in Ulster County and there have also been no vaccine doses discarded due to spoiling or lack of finding people who want to be vaccinated.
More information on the Covid-19 vaccination distribution can be found at covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/vaccine-resource-center.
Updated Covid-19 numbers
During today’s Covid-19 briefing, Ryan reported that the number of hospitalizations in Ulster dropped from 32 to 27, with four in the intensive care unit and on ventilators. The number of active cases has remained steady at 1,940. His largest concern was regarding the 96-hour average of new positives, which was at 9.67 percent, or 493 new positives out of 5,098 tested.
The total number of cases is at 7,607 with 165 fatalities.
For the most recent Covid-19 dashboard, visit covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/dashboard.