Cooperstown, NY – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has granted Bassett Healthcare Network an extension and approved the network’s COVID-19 vaccination plan as network vaccination teams continue inoculating health care workers in the nine-county region served by Bassett who fit the state-defined phase 1A criteria. The extension was approved earlier in the week, ahead of an announcement Friday, January 8, by New York’s governor that the state is also planning to expand vaccine eligibility to individuals in phase 1B.
Bassett, like all hospitals and health systems in the state, is vaccinating people based on federal and state guidelines. Given the state’s extension, Bassett anticipates that all five hospitals in the network will have exhausted their current allocation of the COVID-19 vaccines for phase 1A and expects to hear in the coming days from the NYSDOH about the shipment of future vaccine supply and planning for implementation of phase 1B.
In a news conference, the state indicated its plans for vaccinating the next group of people (phase 1B) will utilize such sites as pharmacies, county health departments, federally qualified health centers, practitioner offices and others. How soon and where people in phase 1B will be able to receive a vaccine is dependent on supply and further guidance from the state regarding distribution centers.
In the meantime, Bassett Network President and CEO Dr. Tommy Ibrahim notes, “What our caregivers have accomplished over this past week to get the tier 1A group vaccinated, and against the backdrop of a surging pandemic, is remarkable. While COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations keep climbing, to stand these clinics up and vaccinate those eligible in such a short period of time while also caring for patients is extraordinary. We are nearing completion of this initial phase, and the state’s approval of the network vaccination plan recognizes the significant progress made.”
Bassett Medical Center, the largest hospital in the network, has used nearly 80 percent of its initial allocation of COVID-19 vaccines as of January 8, 2021, and is partnering with other hospitals and health care partners to use the remaining doses to inoculate hospital staff and eligible health care workers in the community. Under the state’s phase 1A criteria, this includes doctors who work in private medical practices, dentists, pharmacists and others in the region served by the Bassett network.
Federal and state-defined criteria determine who gets the COVID-19 vaccine and when it will become available. That guidance prioritizes individuals based on certain risk factors. Due to a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine, health care workers were prioritized to receive the vaccine first. New York is currently completing phase 1A and preparing for phase 1B.
Phase 1A Eligible New Yorkers:
- High-risk hospital workers (emergency room workers, ICU staff and Pulmonary Department staff)
- Residents and staff at nursing homes and other congregate care facilities
- Federally Qualified Health Center employees
- EMS workers
- Coroners, medical examiners and certain funeral workers
- Staff and residents at OPWDD, OMH and OASAS facilities
- Urgent Care providers
- Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff
- Teachers and education workers
- First responders (i.e. police and firefighters)
- Public safety workers
- Public transit workers
- People 75 and older
Phase 1B of the vaccination process includes approximately three million people statewide. Currently, due to the limited supply, the state says it will begin opening up the appointment process, but the actual inoculation for people who qualify may be delayed.
The above categories are further defined on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website also discusses the decision-making process regarding vaccine rollout due to current supply.
“We fully understand the desire of individuals and families living in the communities served by Bassett to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the vaccine becomes available,” says Ibrahim. “We look forward to this next phase of the vaccination process and learning more from the state about the planned distribution process for getting those individuals in our communities who are at higher risk and fit the phase 1B criteria inoculated.”
Bassett Healthcare Network continues to monitor the federal and state agencies’ guidance on COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution and will continue to respond as needed. As more information becomes available, look for updates on Bassett’s website (https://www.bassett.org/covid-19).