St. Lawrence Health System is hub for COVID vaccine distribution

POTSDAM, N.Y. (WWNY) - St. Lawrence Health System announced Thursday that it has been designated as a hub for vaccine distribution for workers of other north country hospitals.

SLHS has been named the point institution by New York state to help 5 other hospitals in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

The system is not able to disclose which 5 hospitals it is working with.

It says some of the healthcare employees first in line to get the vaccine have already started going to Canton-Potsdam Hospital to receive it.

The following is a news release from the health system:

Upon receiving the initial shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines earlier this week, St. Lawrence Health System (SLHS) was designated by New York State as an access distribution point for other healthcare institutions.

Along with providing the vaccine to some of its own essential healthcare workers from Canton-Potsdam, Gouverneur, and Massena hospitals, SLHS has been deemed the point institution to assist five other hospitals in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Franklin counties. Some Phase I-level healthcare employees from the neighboring hospitals have already started coming to Canton-Potsdam Hospital to receive the vaccine.

“We are honored to be assisting our fellow healthcare colleagues by administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to them,” stated SLHS Chief Administrative Officer Jeremy Slaga. “We are all in the business of keeping North Country residents healthy, and that means our essential workforce must also be kept healthy so we can do our jobs of caring for our patients and community members.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be given in a two-dose series, with 21 days between doses. The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that they also support the Moderna vaccine being used for emergency use. If the drug is granted emergency use authorization within the next couple of days, local hospitals are hopeful to have it in-hand next week. The Moderna vaccine is also given in two doses, but at a 28 day interval.

SLHS will be administering the vaccines in accordance with New York State’s Administration Program, which is divided into five phases.

“The State has not provided specific dates for each phase, which will vary depending on the frequency of future vaccine shipments; but as soon as they determine when the general public can start being vaccinated, SLHS will make an announcement to the public,” Mr. Slaga stated. “Individuals who may have questions about which phase they are included in should contact their primary care provider.”

New York State’s proposed distribution plan is:

Phase 1: Healthcare workers in hospital settings, with priority given to those in intensive care units, emergency units, and those providing medical services in high-risk COVID-19 settings; long-term care facility workers who interact with residents; and at-risk, long-term care facility patients.

Phase 2: First responders; teachers/school staff, childcare providers; public health workers; other essential frontline workers who regularly interact with public (pharmacists, grocery store workers, transit employees, etc.), or maintain critical infrastructure; other long-term care facility patients and those living in other congregate settings; and individuals in the general population deemed particularly high risk due to comorbidities and health conditions.

Phase 3: Individuals over 65, and individuals under 65 with high-risk. Phase 4: All other essential workers. Phase 5: Healthy adults and children (general population).

For State updates to timing and phase determinations, visit https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-draft-new-york-state-covid-19-vaccination-administration-program.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit https://www.stlawrencehealthsystem.org/covid-19.

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