TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Eligibility has expanded, supply has stabilized, and Tompkins County’s efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible have continued with relative success, highlighted during Public Health Director Frank Kruppa’s presentation to the Tompkins County Legislature this week, where he outlined where the county’s vaccination status is currently and the immediate next steps to address underserved communities.
As of Friday, 49,798 people in Tompkins County had received at least their first dose, just under half of whom had received it through the Tompkins County Health Department in some way (the vast majority of the other half likely received theirs at state-operated vaccination sites outside the county). Kruppa emphasized that with relaxed eligibility restrictions and higher supply deliveries, the county could enhance its focus on traditionally underserved communities, like people of color, homeless individuals and more. Kruppa’s presentation is viewable here.
So far, 73 homeless people have been vaccinated with at least their first dose, thanks to a collaboration between the health department and REACH Medical. Kruppa also pointed to the county’s efforts to vaccinate other “hard to reach” populations, such as the recent pop-up clinic at Southside Community Center that gave 30 people their first shot and added another 20 throughout the week. Additionally, the pop-up clinic planned for LACS on Saturday will look to vaccinate 200 people, prioritizing people who live in the West End or on West Hill.
Vaccination opportunities also began this week for incarcerated individuals at the Tompkins County jail, and will continue for anyone who becomes incarcerated there going forward. Still, though, Kruppa said improvements are necessary in outreach with marginalized communities and people of color throughout the county, as there are some disparities in racial demographics that have received the vaccine.
“We know we have more work to do,” Kruppa said. “We do know that we have work to do to reach our Black and Asian communities, and that’s one reason why we’re looking at pop-ups, to try to figure out other ways to reach those communities.”
Those pop-ups could be a more frequent occurrence soon, Kruppa said, due to many of the above listed reasons: eligibility, supply, less state interference and restrictions, etc. In the immediate future, the pop-ups will focus on people of color, rural populations with insufficient access to transportation and farm workers and migrant labor. He also said the Vaccine Registry is being translated into multiple languages to help reach those groups that might not be as well-versed in English.
“We’re working on a plan to reach farm workers,” Kruppa said. “If that doesn’t come together by next week, we would do a rural pod in one of our rural communities and continue to try to work up a plan for our farm workers.”
Locally, the vaccination’s age range is interesting: the group with the highest percentage of the total dosage is young adults, from ages 20-29, who likely obtained eligibility either through their jobs or from underlying health conditions—since they’ve only been eligible by age for two days.
Otherwise, though people over 50 have received the majority of the vaccinations, as 51 percent of the total shots administered to Tompkins County residents have been to people over 50, a group that represents at least 27 percent of the population (those over 80 are not listed below).
Crucial in the administration of vaccines to the older population has been the process of vaccinating those in senior living facilities. The county health department has given 365 people at least their first shot across 11 facilities in Tompkins County, with 240 of those being transported by TCAT or Gadabout thanks to partnerships with those organizations.