Broome County Executive Jason Garnar says the mechanisms are in place for Broome County to begin mass vaccinations for the expanded group of individuals eligible to receive the COVID-19 once those shots arrive.

Getty Images/ Mr. Ilkin

In a January 11 briefing, the Executive said the County has a goal of vaccinating 2,000 people a week with allocations coming from the Federal Government to New York State and then sent by the State to Broome County.  The problem is, those thousands of doses just aren't available yet.

The County has been receiving a couple hundred of doses a week that have been earmarked for those in group 1a: primarily healthcare workers, nursing home staff and residents, Emergency Medical personnel and people who administer the vaccine and others in patient-forward jobs.

The second group is much larger and includes teachers, educators, transit workers, police, fire, other medical staff not in group 1a and residents aged 75 and over.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says there are only about one-million doses expected to come from the Federal Government for an estimated 4-million residents who will be eligible in the state under groups 1a and 1b.

Garnar is joining the call for the Federal Government to invoke the Defense Production Act to require the ramping up of production of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, New York has announced a mass vaccination site to be operated by the State will be opening next week at "a Binghamton University property in Johnson City."  Garnar could not say if that site will be at the Pharmacy School on Corliss Avenue or some other property owned by B.U. in the Village.

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That site will be administering vaccines specifically assigned to the State to people who are in groups 1a and 1b in the entire Southern Tier region who have registered and been given an appointment. Broome officials say the doses will not come from the supplies allocated to area hospitals or the County Health Department.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file photo)

The County Executive says later this week he hopes to provide more information on Broome County's own mass vaccination site that will operate apart from the hundreds of doses to be administered by pharmacies and healthcare providers designated by the State.  The Democrat stresses, however, everything hinges on the availability of vaccines.

Garnar says "Broome stands ready" to administer shots to hundreds of people a day but can obviously only give the amount of doses they have.

Garnar says the County will keep people informed on the progress and the procedures for signing up for a vaccine through social media, the County website and through media briefings.

He likens getting vaccines out to residents to the situation at the start of the pandemic when there was a large demand for COVID testing but the county only had the materials to be able to do 30 tests a day.  Currently, hundreds of tests are now administered by the County and hundreds more through the hospitals, pharmacies and private doctors' offices.

Garnar asks for patience and again says, "we're ready to go" as soon as doses arrive.

Meanwhile, to curb the spread of the coronavirus, residents should continue to wear a proper face mask whenever going out, maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and avoid gatherings.

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