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COVID task force focuses on access, appointments in Geneva

At its Tuesday meeting, the joint City-County COVID Task Force focused on reports from local health practitioners about local vaccine roll out strategies. While multiple agencies continue to request doses of vaccine from the state, a supply backlog at the federal level makes actual delivery dates uncertain.

With so many potential distribution points, residents might be feeling stressed about accessing accurate and timely information. To assist, the Task Force has updated its website to provide a centralized vaccine update page by clicking here.

As Ontario County Public Health receives doses, they post availability on their website and Facebook pages. Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis once group eligibility is verified. The county’s Office of the Aging is working closely with Public Health to reach older residents who may not have internet access or transportation to access one of the NYS-run vaccine clinics in Rochester or Syracuse.

Finger Lakes Community Health has received periodic shipments of vaccine and continues to request more. As doses come in, announcements are made on their website for appointment scheduling for the general public. Yet, like Public Health, the agency has been overwhelmed by calls from residents curious to know when they might receive the vaccine. “We have a team dedicated just to the vaccine and they are doing their best, but we don’t know when we will get more and they cannot make appointments in advance,” said Amanda Felice, Director of Behavioral Health at the West Washington Street location.

Local doctor’s offices affiliated with UR Medicine are beginning to call patients who are eligible for the vaccine in order to schedule appointments. However, they caution that calls to primary care doctors’ offices to ask about the vaccine are tying up phone lines that need to stay open for patients seeking non-vaccine related care.

The Rochester Regional medical network and Finger Lakes Health are providing online resources aimed at helping healthcare workers, residents over age 65, and people with underlying health conditions get connected to vaccination clinics as they come available.

Irene Coveny, Director of the Ontario County Office for the Aging, urges patience. “When people call, we do our best to either walk them through the state signup, or for those who cannot travel out of the area, we will work to find a local appointment as they become available, but in the meantime we have to keep up the mask-wearing and distancing until more vaccine is ready at the national level and can get out to us.”

The group also reminds people that several COVID testing clinics are available in the Geneva area, including free, rapid tests sponsored by the county. “Please consider utilizing community testing clinics to take the pressure off of local healthcare facilities,” said Josie Park, Emergency Department Navigator at Geneva General Hospital.

Testing site information is also available by clicking here. The joint City-County COVID Task Force has been meeting biweekly since March to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the Geneva Community. With subgroups focused on food security, housing, and mental health, the group has built partnerships and helped to coordinate communications for agencies serving the Geneva community. The group will make another periodic report to the Geneva City Council at the February 3rd meeting.