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Counties ready to help deploy COVID-19 vaccine

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Fri, Nov 20th 2020 05:15 pm

NYSAC hosts CDC & NYS DOH to discuss state, local role for distributing vaccine

By the New York State Association of Counties

County local health departments said they are prepared to help state and federal partners distribute the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is ready to deploy. That pledge came out of webinar hosted by the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) and included federal, state and local public health experts who discussed how the vaccine will be distributed across the state. View a recording of the webinar here.

“As the level of government closest to the people, New York’s counties will once again be the boots on the ground, doing the vital work of turning a vaccine into vaccinations,” said Jack Marren, NYSAC president and Ontario County chairman. “But we can’t do this alone. We’re going to work in close collaboration with our partners in the state executive branch, the State Legislature, as well as the new administration in Washington to ensure we have the resources we need to support our dedicated county public health workforce and to carry out this mission.”

The webinar featured presentations from Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Loretta Santilli, director of the Office of Public Health Practice at the NYSDOH, and Sarah Ravenhall, executive director of the New York State Association of County Health Officials.

“Make no mistake, this may be the most important thing that we as counties ever do,” said Marc Molinaro, president of the New York State County Executives Association, and Dutchess County executive. “Counties are the backbone of public health in their communities, with decades of experience in providing large-scale vaccinations for diseases like the flu. We have the experience and the insight that is needed to reach vulnerable and underserved populations, we just need the resources to do it. New York state is one of the few states that has not suballocated CARES Act funding to counties with populations under 500,000. This is one area where you could strongly argue that those funds should be passed on to the county so we can do the essential work of educating the public about a vaccine and deploying it across our communities.”

“(This) webinar provided invaluable insight into the state and federal government’s plans for vaccine distribution, but it’s important that we have a continued dialog with state,” NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said. “The prospect of a vaccine is providing all our county leaders and frontline workers with welcome glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have miles to go before this is over. We look forward to working with state and federal leaders to develop plans and secure the resources we need to fully empower our county workforces and help defeat this terrible pandemic.”

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