The Niagara County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to allocate $101,458 from its contingency fund to create and fill part-time positions that will help administer the COVID-19 vaccine to the public when the vaccine doses become available. The county intends to vaccinate the public through point-of-dispensing sites (PODS).
Specifically, these funds will allow the county to hire three part-time/per-diem firefighter EMTs and 10 part-time/per-diem paramedic positions to assist with vaccinations. The Niagara County Health Department will begin phase one vaccinations next Tuesday. Nursing home vaccinations are already underway through a federal program, and hospitals have begun vaccinating priority groups, as well.
“The Niagara County Departments of Health and Emergency Services have an excellent plan in place to deliver the vaccine and will utilize firefighter EMTs and paramedics from Niagara County to assist existing staff in these operations,” said Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Becky Wydysh, who is a member of the WNY vaccination hub. “These funds allow us to hire those individuals.”
Legislator Dave Godfrey, chairman of the Community Safety and Security Committee, said this expenditure represents half of the county’s entire contingency fund for 2021.
“We were optimistic that, since New York state has been dictating so much of the vaccination process, that they would provide funding to help implement the plan; but thus far, we have no indication that such funding is going to happen,” Godfrey said. “So, while it’s a little disconcerting spending half your contingency one week into the year, the fact is there is no better use of county dollars than getting people vaccinated.
“I will add that, as a community, we are very fortunate to have so many trained firefighter EMTs and paramedics who are willing to step into these part-time positions.”