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Elizabethtown Community Hospital, Essex County Health Department Play Key Role in Local Vaccine Distribution Efforts
Elizabethtown, NY – Since December 17, 2020, the University of Vermont Health Network - Elizabethtown Community Hospital has been working to vaccinate employees and community partners in line with state and federal guidelines for distribution. As of January 6, 2021, Elizabethtown Community Hospital has vaccinated 67% of its employees and more than 210 community partners.
“The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is one of the most important public health efforts of our time and a critical step in protecting our patients, staff, and communities,” said Julie Tromblee, vice president and chief nursing officer at Elizabethtown Community Hospital. “We are proud to play a role in this first phase of distribution to health care professionals.”
Elizabethtown Community Hospital is coordinating closely with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Essex County Health Department (ECHD), and UVM Health Network affiliates on vaccine distribution across the region. The distribution process is strictly guided by the NYSDOH framework for prioritization.
“Our employees have been excited to be among the first groups to receive the vaccine,” said Tromblee. No adverse reactions have been reported among the ECH employees who have been vaccinated to date. Many employees have expressed relief and hope, seeing the vaccine as a turning point in the fight against COVID.
According to Tromblee, the state plans to distribute the vaccine in phases based on careful evaluation of COVID-19 exposure risk. The first phase, which is currently underway, includes groups like high-risk hospital and public health workers, congregate care residents and staff, EMS, urgent care providers, coroners, and professionals who interact with patients outside the hospital setting.
When more vaccine doses become available, additional high-risk groups will be vaccinated in line with the state’s distribution plan. The ECHD, a trusted source for community level vaccination, is readying for what is anticipated to be a multi-month effort of vaccinating the residents of Essex County.
According to Public Health Director Linda Beers, ECHD has completed the following steps in preparation for community vaccinations:
• identified locations available for community-based clinics;
• worked closely with New York State to ensure easy, on-line registration is at the ready;
• activated the Essex County Medical Reserve Corps and other volunteers to support vaccination efforts;
• developed draft clinic schedules; and
• completed the NYS Vaccination plan to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
“Right now, everyone can help by continuing to social distance, wear masks, and wash hands and by checking the ECHD website and Facebook page, and local media outlets for the most current information about COVID-19 vaccines,” said Beers.
“Asking people to be patient is hard, but the good news is that people are eager to be vaccinated,” said Tromblee. “The more people who get vaccinated when the time comes, the greater the protection for our entire community.” Tromblee added that the new “Am I Eligible” app developed by NYSDOH can help people determine their eligibility.
“The vaccine gives us a great deal of hope but, especially as we see COVID-19 cases increasing in our region, we can’t forget the precautions that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19. At ECH, we remain committed to safety measures like wearing a mask and good hand hygiene -- and we urge our community to do the same.” More information on COVID-19 vaccines is available at UVMHealth.org