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Health CareLatest COVID-19 Vaccine Updates | The Highlands Current | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors

Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Updates | The Highlands Current | #healthcare | #elderly | #seniors

VA hospitals now vaccinating veterans’ spouses and caregivers 

■ As of Wednesday (March 31), New York had administered at least one vaccine dose to 6,068,998 residents, or 30.4 percent of the total population, and had fully vaccinated 3,566,509, or 17.9 percent, according to the state’s COVID-19 Tracker.

■ The Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Dutchess, Putnam and five other counties, had administered at least one dose to 610,947 residents as of March 31 and fully vaccinated 319,156 residents.

■ Dutchess County vaccine providers

■ Putnam County vaccine providers

■ As of March 31, 31.2 percent of Dutchess County residents (91,729 of 294,218) had received at least one dose and 15.9 percent (46,726) were fully vaccinated. In Putnam County, 33.7 percent of residents (33,129 of 98,320) had received at least one dose and 18.1 percent (19.2) were fully vaccinated.

■ Dutchess County had fully vaccinated 35.8 percent of its residents 65 and older (19,132) and Putnam 40.1 percent (7,113) as of March 31, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, 50.8 percent of U.S. residents 65 and older were fully vaccinated.

■ The VA Hudson Valley Health Care System began offering on Wednesday (March 31) vaccinations to the veterans’ spouses and caregivers at its walk-in clinics at the Castle Point and Montrose facilities. The clinics take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

■ New York began vaccinating all prisoners in state facilities and inmates in local jails on Tuesday (March 30), said Beth Garvey, acting counsel for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on Monday (March 29).

On National Doctor’s Day (March 30), the Putnam County Health Department recognized Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Dr. Linda Mueller, who has volunteered at 15 clinics, and counting (Putnam County photo)

■ New York residents 30 years old and over can begin booking vaccine appointments on Tuesday (March 30) and people 16 and over starting April 6, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday (March 29). The vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech, which is recommended for people 16 and older, is the only one available for those younger than 18.

■ A study of 3,950 people in six states conducted over 13 weeks found that two weeks or more after the second dose of the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the risk of COVID-19 infection was reduced by 90 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday (March 29). The risk of infection was reduced by 80 percent two weeks after the first shot of either vaccine, said the CDC.

■ New York has launched its Excelsior Pass digital Wallet app, which residents can use to verify that they have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 at entrances to venues like stadiums and theaters, and events required by state guidelines to verify the virus status of attendees. The free app, developed by IBM, will be used at Madison Square Garden and at the Times Union Center in Albany beginning next week, and debut at other businesses in the coming weeks, Cuomo said on Friday (March 26). Residents need to opt in and download the app for Android or iOS. Businesses must also opt in.

■ New York exceeded 200,000 doses administered in a 24-hour period for the first time, Cuomo said on Thursday (March 25). More than 1 million doses had been administered over the previous seven days, he said.

■ New York Attorney General Letitia James joined with colleagues from other states in urging Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to crack down on the use of their platforms to spread vaccine disinformation. James and 11 other attorneys general, in a letter sent on Wednesday (March 24), said disinformation “is threatening the health of our communities, slowing progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and undermining economic recovery in our states.” Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are testifying on Thursday (March 25) at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing on misinformation.


Dutchess County Legislator Nick Page, whose district includes three wards in Beacon, County Executive Marc Molinaro and Beacon Mayor Lee Kyriacou on Wednesday (March 24) visited a clinic at Rombout Middle School. About 250 residents received vaccines. (County photo)

■ New York expanded vaccine eligibility to people 50 and older as of Tuesday (March 23).

■ Pharmacies can now vaccinate people with qualifying health conditions, Cuomo said on Sunday (March 21). They had been limited in New York to vaccination people over 60 and teachers. The list of underlying health conditions for which residents are currently qualified for vaccination can be found here.

■ A reported 41 percent of Republicans overall, and 49 percent of Republican men, said they will not be vaccinated, according to a national poll of 1,227 adults conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in partnership with NPR and PBS NewsHour, between March 3 and March 8. The same response was given by 34 percent of the Republican women responding to the poll, whose results were released on March 11. Of the Democrats who responded, 11 percent overall said they will not be vaccinated, including 14 percent of women and 6 percent of men. Overall, 30 percent of respondents said they would refuse to be vaccinated.

■ Drug World is seeking donations from businesses for a raffle to benefit volunteers for the pharmacy’s vaccination clinics. Gifts will be raffled at the end of each clinic. Businesses can bring gift cards or raffle items to Drug World, 55 Chestnut St. in Cold Spring, attaching a note addressed to owner Heidi Snyder with their name and indicating that the gift is for volunteers. “It truly takes an entire village to get this job done and our town vaccinated,” said Snyder.

Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 17 at a Baptist church in Harlem. (Governor’s office)

■ New York received 795,155 first and second vaccine doses for the week ending Sunday (March 14), nearly five times the 163,650 doses the state received from the inaugural shipment of vaccines beginning on Dec. 14.

■ Beginning March 15, the VA hospitals at Montrose and Castle Point began holding daily walk-in vaccination clinics for military veterans who are 55 and older and either an essential worker or have a qualifying underlying medical condition. Clinics will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Anyone who wants to apply for VA health care can call 845-831-2000, ext. 215100 or ext. 203309.

■ Private and public employees are now granted up to four hours of paid leave for each vaccination appointment under legislation signed March 12 by Cuomo and taking effect immediately. Employers are prohibited from deducting the time off from other leave workers have earned or accrued.

■ President Joe Biden said in a primetime speech on March 11 that all states will be directed no later than May 1 to open vaccinations to all adults and that the federal government is working on building a website that will allow people to find the nearest available appointment. “No more searching, day and night, for an appointment for you and your loved ones,” he said.

■ New York is expanding the eligibility for vaccines to residents 60 and older, beginning March 10, and to government and nonprofit essential workers who interact with the public, beginning March 17, Cuomo said on Tuesday.

■ Hospitals and county health departments will be able to vaccinate anyone who is eligible, Cuomo said on March 9. Hospitals had previously been restricted to vaccinating health care workers and counties to essential workers, people with qualifying medical conditions and residents 65 and older. Pharmacies will continue to prioritize older residents 60 and older and teachers, said Cuomo.


Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell receives the vaccine at a clinic on Brewster from public Health nurse Jeanette Baldanza. (PCHD photo)

■ New York plans to open two additional mass-vaccination sites in the Mid-Hudson Region and eight in other regions over the next few weeks, Cuomo said on March 8. In addition to the current site at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, the state will use SUNY Orange in Middletown and the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz for vaccinations, said Cuomo. The start dates have yet to be announced, but once they open, residents can find appointments at the state’s Am I Eligible website or by calling the vaccination hotline, 1-833-697-4829.

■ Under new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on March 8, people who are fully vaccinated do not have to wear masks or social-distance during indoor visits with each other, or when visiting unvaccinated people in households where everyone is low-risk for severe illness; and are exempt from quarantining and testing if they have no symptoms of COVID-19 after being in contact with an infected person. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required vaccine doses, according to the CDC, which still recommends that vaccinated people wear masks and practice social distancing in public.

marist clinic

A short term mass vaccination site that utilizes the Johnson & Johnson vaccine opened on March 5 at Marist College. (Don Pollard/Office of the Governor)

■ Dutchess County is holding a “pop-up” vaccination clinic on March 10 at John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction, in collaboration with the towns of East Fishkill, Fishkill and Wappinger. The time is still to be determined.

■ Dutchess County is forming a vaccine equity coalition “to ensure equitable distribution” of the COVID-19 vaccines “in underserved communities,” County Executive Marc Molinaro announced on March 3 during his weekly Facebook town hall. The coalition will include the the City of Poughkeepsie and other local stakeholders, according to the county.

■ Putnam County posted a link on March 3 afternoon where seniors can book appointments for the county’s first clinics designated solely for residents 65 and over. Appointments can be found on the county website at Appointments are for Thursday (March 4) and Friday (March 5) in Brewster.

■ The state-run mass-vaccination sites at the Javits Center in Manhattan, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse will temporarily administer vaccines 24 hours a day due to the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine, Cuomo said on March 3. New York is receiving an initial allocation of 164,800 doses. Appointments can be made at the state’s Am I Eligible website. “After that first tranche of Johnson & Johnson, the production is actually going to slow and lag and then build back up again,” said Cuomo.

heidi and mark snyder

Heidi Snyder, who owns Drug World of Cold Spring, with her son, Mark, at a vaccine clinic in Philipstown on March 5. (Photo by Ross Corsair)

■ New York City will receive 71,100 doses and the rest of the state 93,700 doses this week from the initial shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which on Feb. 27 joined Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna as the third drug to receive emergency use authorization under the country’s COVID-19 inoculation program. While the other two vaccines require two shots per person, the one made by Johnson & Johnson requires a single-dose drug.

■ Putnam County is receiving 1,170 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to administer to residents 65 and older as the state expands its vaccine program with clinics designated for seniors. Putnam had requested 3,000 during a call with state officials on Friday (Feb. 26) about the expansion, which is supposed to start this week. Counties were asked to specify how many of the Pfizer vaccines they could store at sub-zero temperatures and administer within seven days, County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. Putnam has freezers capable of storing 6,000 doses at below-freezing, the county said.

■ Cuomo said on Feb. 26 that that state achieved a record-high for a 24-hour period of 179,038 vaccines administered. “Nearly 180,000 vaccinations in a single day is a major milestone,” he said.

■ The state is working with local health departments to develop vaccination sites designated for residents 65 and older, and provide transportation to and from those locations and help with paperwork, Cuomo said on Feb. 26. Counties, which so far have focused on inoculating essential workers, will receive additional Moderna vaccines for those sites starting next week, he said. Locations, dates, times and hours will be announced, said Cuomo. Dutchess spokesperson Colleen Pillus said the county was told of the expanded access and will receive additional doses. “While we weren’t given an amount, we are prepared to distribute whatever we secure,” she said.

■ Counties can now begin vaccinating hotel workers along with other essential employees, Cuomo said on Feb. 26. Hotels are being used to isolate COVID-19-positive people in some areas of New York, exposing their staff to infections risks, according to the state.

■ Dutchess County received an additional 700 doses to supplement the 1,200 it has been receiving. The extra doses “will help us move the needle a little bit more,” Molinaro said during his weekly town hall on Feb. 23.

north highlands clinic

Bev Taylor, a volunteer nurse, administers a vaccine at a clinic at the North Highlands firehouse in Philipstown on March 5. (Photo by Ross Corsair)

■ The Town of Philipstown announced on Feb. 23 that Haldane High School seniors are volunteering to help elderly residents unable to navigate multiple websites find vaccination appointments. Residents can email their phone number and consent to be contacted by a student to town Councilwoman Judy Farrell at [email protected]

■ Putnam County received on Feb. 22 a shipment of 500 Moderna doses that was delayed from being delivered last week because of winter storms. Of the doses, 200 will be used for people ready for second doses; 100 for those with developmental disabilities; and 200 for essential workers and residents with eligible underlying medical conditions.

■ Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, whose district includes Beacon, is calling on the state to establish permanent vaccination sites in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie and to simplify its “haphazard and frustrating signup process” for vaccines. The state held “pop-up” vaccination clinics at the Newburgh Armory and Beulah Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, but “residents need reliability and consistency,” said Jacobson. He also said the state needs a “user-friendly” system where people can sign up by phone or online and receive an alert when an appointment is available nearby.

■ Molinaro is lobbying the state to open a mass-vaccination site at the former JCPenney space at Poughkeepsie Galleria, which is used by the county health department to administer vaccines. In a letter to Cuomo on Feb. 19, Molinaro said the space, at 185,000 square feet, is “ideally situated” to hold large vaccination clinics. “With current vaccine allocation of less than 1,000 doses per week from New York State, the site is currently operating well below its capacity,” he said.

Nurses photo

Medical Reserve Corps and Putnam County public health nurses posed with Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Nesheiwat on Feb. 4 before the doors opened at the first second-dose clinic held in the county, at the Carmel senior center. (Photo by Susan Hoffner / Putnam County)

■ Overdue shipments of Pfizer vaccines delayed by winter storms are scheduled to arrive by Feb. 22, followed by new shipments on Feb. 23 and 24, Cuomo said on Feb. 19. Delayed shipments of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive by the middle of next week, and new orders by the end of the week.

■ Dutchess County had to cancel about 500 vaccine appointments because a link the county sends to school districts, fire departments, police agencies and other employers was shared on Feb. 16 “with the broader public,” Molinaro said on Feb. 17 during his weekly Facebook town hall. The county, following state guidelines, prioritizes teachers, firefighters, police officers and other essential workers for vaccines, sending links for reserved slots to their employers. “I understand you got an appointment, it was canceled, it’s unnerving, but equally unnerving was the fact that there were 500 people who were already told they were getting an appointment and they couldn’t schedule them. And so those people had their opportunity taken from them,” said Molinaro.

■ Putnam County said on Feb. 17 that a shipment of vaccine doses it expected to receive on Feb. 16 was rerouted back to Kentucky due to weather and a need to keep the doses at the right temperature. The county also said it has yet to receive second doses for people who received their first ones on Jan. 21. The state Department of Health has said the doses will be sent, but has not given an arrival date yet, the county said.

■ Dutchess County rescheduled a vaccination clinic from Feb. 18 to 21 because of “weather-related shipping issues.” Residents with appointments will be notified by phone or email.

■ The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open four more mass-vaccination sites, in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and Yonkers, that will administer doses to 1,000 people a day beginning the first week of March, Cuomo said on Feb. 15. The first two sites proposed by FEMA were at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens. Each site will initially limit eligibility to people in the surrounding communities to reduce disparities in vaccination rates among racial groups.

■ The federal government is doubling its vaccine allocation to pharmacies to 2 million doses and increasing the doses sent weekly to states by roughly 2.5 million, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Feb. 16. On Feb. 11, CVS, Walgreens and grocery store-based pharmacies began receiving 1 million doses directly from the federal government to administer. The states will see their allocation increase to 13.5 million doses next week. This week, according to federal data, states are receiving roughly 11 million doses.

■ Appointments are booked through April 16 at nine of the 13 state-run vaccination sites, including the one at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, Cuomo said on Feb. 16. About 251,000 people booked appointments on Feb. 14 at the state sites, the largest single-day registration since the first ones opened last month. The state fairgrounds in Syracuse, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Stony Brook, and the Rochester Dome are the only sites not yet booked through April 16.

■ The percentage of hospital workers vaccinated in Putnam County rose to 60 percent as of Feb. 15, compared to 54 percent on Feb. 3. The rate is still the lowest among the seven counties in the Mid-Hudson Region. Dutchess had 85 percent of its hospital workers vaccinated, compared to 83 percent on Feb. 3.

■ Residents of any age with certain medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and pulmonary disease are eligible to book vaccine appointments at the state’s Am I Eligible website starting on Feb. 15. Local health departments will also receive vaccines for those residents, Cuomo said on Feb. 13. People will need to prove their eligibility with a doctor’s letter, medical documents or a signed certification. A full list of conditions can be found at the state Department of Health’s vaccine eligibility webpage.

■ A walk-in vaccination clinic for military veterans who are essential workers or 65 and older was held on Feb. 13 at the VA hospitals at Castle Point in Wappingers Falls and at Montrose. For information, call 845-831-2000, and press “3.”

■ More than 100,000 people received first and second doses in a 24-hour period and about 10 percent of the state’s residents have been given a first dose, Cuomo said on Feb. 11. “We’ve hit a significant milestone in the COVID war,” he said.

■ Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar with the Hastings Institute in Garrison, was interviewed by the New York Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer for articles about queue-jumping, in which people ineligible for vaccines in their home states are traveling to other states to get their shots and others are using money, connections and deception to bypass eligibility guidelines.

Maureen McCabe

Maureen McCabe, who works in the meat department at Foodtown, is one of the first employees at the grocery to receive a COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic held on Jan. 28 at the Philipstown Recreation Center. (Photo by Susan Hoffner)

■ The Federal Emergency Management Agency will open mass-vaccination sites at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and York College in Queens, Cuomo and Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said on Feb. 10. Each site is reserved for residents of those boroughs to improve vaccine access for Black and Latino residents and is expected to give shots to 3,000 people per day. The state is working with FEMA on opening additional mass-vaccination sites focused on “socially vulnerable” residents, said Cuomo.

■ Dutchess County has replaced the online form residents fill out to receive email notifications about upcoming vaccination appointments, a change that requires the roughly 25,000 people currently receiving updates to complete the form again, Molinaro said on Feb. 9. The new Vaccination Information Request Form asks residents to identify their vaccine eligibility category, such as health care or essential worker, or senior 65 and over. Anyone without internet access can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline, 845-486-3555, to get updates about vaccine availability. Seniors can use the number to be added to the Dutchess Office for the Aging’s notification list.

■ On Feb. 9, Cuomo announced that 11 new pop-up vaccination clinics, including ones in Kingston and Spring Valley, are opening this week at community centers, public housing complexes and cultural centers. The community-based sites are part of the state’s strategy to boost access to the vaccine in Black and Latino communities.

■ Cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure are among the health conditions that qualify New York residents to be vaccinated starting on Feb. 15, Cuomo said on Feb. 5.  People with underlying health conditions represent about 92 percent of the state’s nearly 36,000 COVID-19 deaths. The full list includes:

  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease

■ Dutchess County is accepting applications from people interested in temporary positions administering COVID-19 vaccines. Applicants must be at least 18 and either medical personnel qualified to give vaccines or employed as a dentist, dental hygienist, emergency medical technician or advanced emergency medical technician, licensed practical nurse, midwife, pharmacist or podiatrist. Students in eligible education programs, such as dentistry and nursing, can also apply. Applications can be downloaded at

■ About 6,500 pharmacy locations began vaccinating people on Feb. 11 under the federal government’s Retail Pharmacy Partnership Program. In New York state (excluding New York City) the program will launch initially with CVS, Walgreens and Retail Business Services Inc., which provides pharmacy services to grocery chains that include Stop & Shop. Pharmacies will receive an initial allotment of 1 million doses.

■ Cuomo talked earlier this week about the underrepresentation of Blacks in the count of hospital workers receiving vaccinations, but the figures released by the state on Feb. 5 show that the problem extends to the pool of essential workers and residents 65 and over who are eligible for shots. Blacks account for 17 percent of the essential workers now eligible, but have received 5 percent of the vaccinations, said the governor. Among the elderly residents vaccinated so far, Blacks have received 4 percent of the shots while being 13 percent of the eligible population.

Hospital Workers Essential Workers 65+ population
63% of vaccine recipients were white (70% of eligible population) 74% of vaccine recipients were white (75% of eligible population) 78% of vaccine recipients were white 77% of eligible population)
10% of vaccine recipients were African American (17% of eligible population) 5% of vaccine recipients were African American (17% of eligible population) 4% of vaccine recipients were African American (13% of eligible population)
10% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (9% of eligible population) 10% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (14% of eligible population) 5% of vaccine recipients were Hispanic or Latino (12 % of eligible population)
16% of vaccine recipients were Asian (12% of eligible population) 7% of vaccine recipients were Asian (6% of eligible population) 8% of vaccine recipients were Asian (7% of eligible population)

■ New York State began vaccinating prisoners 65 and over on Feb. 5, said Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Cuomo. DeRosa said that 1,075 prisoners are eligible. Corrections officers and other prison staff had already been eligible to receive vaccinations.

■ The state’s Vaccine Dashboard now includes, for each county, the percentages of hospital workers vaccinated and the percentages of nursing home residents and staff receiving shots. Dutchess had 83 percent of its hospital workers vaccinated as of Feb. 3, compared to 54 percent in Putnam County, which has the lowest rate in the seven-county Mid-Hudson Region. Dutchess nursing homes had vaccinated 81 percent of residents and 46 percent of staff as of Wednesday, while the rates in Putnam were 88 percent for residents and 54 for staff.

Questions? Dutchess County posts vaccine updates at, has a hotline at 845-486-3555 and accepts registration for email updates on vaccine appointments at Putnam County posts info at New York State has a vaccine hotline at 1-833-697-4829 and a webpage at, which is also where you can find appointments at state-run testing sites. The state also created an email list to provide updates. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posts updates at

For earlier updates, click here.

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