By Violet Lazarus
Three separate links for new vaccination wait-list programs in Onondaga County will go live at noon Thursday.
Two offer sign ups for vaccination clinics the county and Kinney Drugs will host. Eligible Onondaga County residents can sign up when the online site goes live to receive the vaccine later in the week: the county’s clinic is set for Friday and Kinney Drugs’ is set for Sunday.
The third link is for OnList, a new vaccine per-registration service for county residents 65 years and older. Prior to the site’s launch, further information can be found on the county’s covid19.ongov.net website.
“The distribution is there. The challenge is the supply,” said County Executive Ryan McMahon Wednesday during a press conference with John Marraffa of Kinney Drugs. This causes appointments to be limited.
“The competition for these appointments, due to the way our systems are set up, is inequitable to our seniors,” he added, “so today we’re rolling out OnList.”
OnList has space for 10,000 seniors, and both the county and Kinney Drugs will be pulling from this list through a random selection process to fill a portion of future clinics as each receives supplies. OnList was developed with seniors who are not as technologically literate in mind, since appointments for clinics usually fill up quickly. McMahon said 1,000 appointments can easily be filled in less than 30 minutes.
He also noted 5 percent of OnList spots will be reserved for seniors needing to be reached by phone. The county is coordinating a phone bank effort for outreach to seniors who can’t register online. Details are still unclear, but McMahon said there was a possible partnership with Syracuse University in the works to have students make calls; he was confident it could be coordinated quickly.
“For us, it’s really all about how we can help all the counties that we operate in to protect patients, get more people and do it in an equitable way,” Marraffa said.
As of now, OnList is a service only for Onondaga County residents, but if it is successful, both said they could see OnList expand.
McMahon said the biggest challenge isn’t distribution locations or methods, it’s the short supply of vaccines. The federal government is lending aid to the state, and McMahon hopes Onondaga County will be back to receiving and distributing at least 3,600 doses a week after seeing a recent reduction to 1,000.
“Quite frankly, if they gave us 10,000 doses, we could get through this list very quickly,” McMahon said. “Our capacity to distribute is very strong.”
Violet Lazarus is a senior studying journalism at the Newhouse School