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Gray: State’s vaccination rate list doesn’t tell the whole story

The COVID-19 vaccine numbers coming from a handful of north country hamlets and villages have...
The COVID-19 vaccine numbers coming from a handful of north country hamlets and villages have caught the governor’s attention, but not for good reason. One Jefferson County leader said Fort Drum is skewing those numbers.
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:45 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The COVID-19 vaccine numbers coming from a handful of north country hamlets and villages have caught the governor’s attention, but not for good reason. One Jefferson County leader said Fort Drum is skewing those numbers.

New York announced the 175 areas with the lowest vaccination rates. The state tracks that data by using zip codes, which one county lawmaker said is creating confusion near Fort Drum.

“The information is kind of wonky, because anything along the Route 11 corridor is closely associated with Fort Drum’s effort to vaccinate people,” said Scott Gray, Jefferson County Legislature Chairman.

Gray said active soldiers, their families, and retirees living off post can get vaccinated on Fort Drum.

“Upwards of 50,000 people that they’re eligible to vaccinate,” Gray said.

That data goes to the federal government, not the state.

Gray said that means New York has artificially low vaccination numbers in places like Evans Mills, Calcium, and Antwerp, which all made the state list.

“You have to asterisk all those, and you have to really take them off the list, and say incomplete data,” Gray said. “We can’t actually tell you they’re in the bottom because we don’t have all the information.”

LaFargeville is also reporting low enough vaccination numbers to catch the state’s eye, and Gray knows that’s where the county needs to focus its attention.

“We’ll be back there on June 18th. June 18th to run a clinic there and we’ll see if we can pick those numbers up a little bit,” Gray said.

Lewis County has four municipalities on he state’s list, and while County Manager Ryan Piche said they won’t slow their vaccination efforts, he knows not everyone wants to get the shot.

“At the end of the day, people need to make their own decisions,” Piche said. “I think that’s the structural reality of some parts of the state, particularly in more rural areas.”

With the state at 68.6-percent, close to that magic number of 70-percent, the state is looking wherever it can to get a few more people to get the shot, so restrictions can get lifted.

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