Southern Tier still without mass vaccination site

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UPDATED: 12/1/21 — 2:18 P.M.

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases, fairly low vaccination rates and widespread booster rollout, the Southern Tier still has no state-run mass vaccination site.

According to Broome County Interim Health Director Mary McFadden, the COVID-19 booster rollout has been going well. She said there is demand for the shots, the county’s vaccine clinics are filling up quickly, and there is enough vaccine supply to provide boosters.

But McFadden said health department staff are still juggling vaccine clinics, contact tracing and testing residents as COVID numbers rise.

“We’re split three different ways, so we have a smaller amount of people allocated in all of those different areas, to provide the services that we need,” said McFadden. “Because they’re in such high demand.”

McFadden admitted that a mass vaccination site could relieve some of the pressure on staff and speed up the booster rollout process. Broome County’s state-run site has been closed since the summer.

The state-run mass vaccination site in Johnson City closed in July. (Provided by Binghamton University)

“We certainly would appreciate one, and do need one, in my eyes,” said McFadden. “We want to get people vaccinated. Our numbers are still very low, 60 percent, and we still need to get people boosted.”

During a COVID-19 briefing this week, Governor Kathy Hochul said counties can ask the state to reopen vaccination sites. A state-run site in the North Country will soon reopen.

“We have been on calls with our county leaders,” said Hochul. “We say to them, if you want a mass vax site, we’ll do it.”

In a statement, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said county officials do not think Broome needs a mass vaccination site at this point in time. He said the demand for vaccines and boosters are still not as high as they were last winter and spring. But Garnar added that if the county decides reopening is necessary, they will request it.* 

*This article has been updated to reflect new information from the Broome County Executive.