Coronavirus Latest Updates

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WMCHealth Vaccine Information

Westchester Medical Center is serving as the coordinator for the Hudson Valley Region Hub of New York State’s Regional Vaccine Network.

Following state and federal guidelines, Westchester Medical Center is following a phased approach for vaccination, which began in mid-December with the WMCHealth workforce.

WMCHealth is collaborating with a broad group of hospitals, healthcare organizations and agencies, community organizations and many other stakeholders in developing plans to ensure the safe, equitable and efficient distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine across Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties.

As information becomes available, we will be providing it to our partners, community stakeholders and the public. Please visit this site often for updates from WMCHealth, New York State and the federal government.

Hudson Valley HUB Mission

"Ensure that all residents of the Hudson Valley have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This will be achieved through extensive regional partnerships and stakeholder coordination resulting in safe, rapid and equitable vaccine distribution and administration to communities and residents throughout the region."

View WMCHealth Regional HUB Vaccine Task Force List

And remember:

  • Wear a mask
  • Physical distance
  • Wash your hands

Please find the most up to date information below.


Vaccine for Community Providers

WMCHealth is currently providing vaccinations to community providers under the New York State prioritization guidelines

Below are links to the most recent guidelines:

forward.ny.gov/covid-19-vaccine-distribution

covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/what-you-need-know

For information or inquires, please contact us at vaccinehub@wmchealth.org


Vaccine for the General Public

The vaccination prioritization is based on New York State mandates that specify in what order vaccine can be administered.

Beginning January 12, 2021, members of the general public age 65 and older are able to register for vaccination. To determine eligibility and schedule appointments with administering providers, please visit am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.  New Yorkers can also call  the New York State Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4VAX (833.697.4829) for more information

Please visit the New York State Department of Health’s website at covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/what-you-need-know for more information regarding vaccination. 

The New York State Department of Health will continue to inform the general public about availability and how to obtain vaccination.


Vaccine Prioritization Phasing

WMCHealth is following New York State Vaccination Program guidance for facilities receiving COVID-19 vaccination.

New York State is currently in Phase 1A and 1B.

Registration for the vaccine is currently through a centralized New York State website. As part of this expanded effort, additional vaccination sites will be available.

Week 5 (January 11, 2021)

Facilities should continue to vaccinate those who were prioritized in Phase 1A in weeks 1-4.  In addition, beginning January 11, 2021, those in Phase 1B are eligible to register for vaccination.  Phase 1B includes:

  • People 65 and older
  • First Responders and Support Staff of First Responder Agencies
  • Public Safety Communications
  • Other Sworn and Civilian Personnel
  • Corrections Workers
  • P-12 Schools Workers
  • Public-Facing Grocery Store Workers
  • Public Transit
  • Individuals living in a homeless shelter where sleeping, bathing or eating accommodations must be shared with individuals and families who are not part of the same household

For detailed eligibility list, please visit covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/phased-distribution-vaccine.  

Week 4

Facilities should continue to vaccinate those who were prioritized in Phase 1A in weeks 1-3

Beginning Week 4, January 4, 2021 (updated January 5, 2021):

  • All Outpatient/Ambulatory front-line, high-risk health care workers of any age who provide direct in-person patient care, or other staff in a position in which they have direct contact with patients (i.e., intake staff), will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, individuals who work in private medical practices; hospital-affiliated medical practices; public health clinics; specialty medical practices of all types; dental practices of all types; dialysis workers; diagnostic and treatment centers; occupational therapists; physical therapists; speech therapists; phlebotomists; behavioral health workers; and student health workers.
  • All front-line, high-risk public health workers who have direct contact with patients, including those conducting COVID-19 tests, those handling COVID-19 lab specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations, will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Home care workers and aides, hospice workers, personal care aides, and consumer-directed personal care workers.
  • Staff and residents of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and adult care facilities.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Below is the prioritization guidance for the prior weeks.

Week 1

  • High-risk hospital staff, affiliates, volunteers and contract staff, following the clinical risk assessment guidance

Week 2

Beginning December 21, 2020:

  • High-risk hospital staff including State-operated OMH psychiatric centers
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Personnel
  • Medical Examiners and Coroners
  • Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids
  • Health care or other high-risk direct care essential staff working in LTCFs and long-term, congregate settings overseen by OPWDD, OMH and OASAS
  • Persons living in LTCFs and in long-term congregate settings overseen by OPWDD and OMH

Week 3

For the week of December 28, 2020, Urgent Care Centers (UCC), hospitals, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) will receive vaccine. The following populations are prioritized for vaccination:

  • High-risk hospital and FQHC staff, including OMH psychiatric centers
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel
  • Medical Examiners and Coroners
  • Funeral workers who have direct contact with infectious material and bodily fluids
  • Agency staff and residents in congregate living situations run by the OPWDD, OMH and OASAS.
  • Urgent Care providers
  • Staff administering the COVID-19 vaccine


Volunteer to Provide Immunizations

How To Volunteer

As the coordinator for the Hudson Valley Regional HUB, WMCHealth is seeking volunteers to support the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Volunteers are needed to assist with operations and activities at vaccination sites, such as registration and check-in, data entry, greeting and routing participants, traffic flow, and other administrative tasks. Volunteers with specific clinical credentials to administer the vaccine are also needed.

Volunteers must be 18 years of age in good health and proficient in English, with bi-lingual skills also being important. Those working at the vaccination site will be provided with training and PPE.

Site locations will be announced in the coming days and will operate 7 days a week. Multiple shifts are available. Volunteers are asked to commit to three shifts a week during a 90-day commitment.

To register to be a part of this historic vaccine program, please click here.

Thank you for your support.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When can I get the vaccine?

A: New York State has established a task force comprised of experts in public health, immunizations, government operations, data and other fields relevant to vaccine distribution and administration, to advise the set up and operation of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination program.  Under the plan, the state has been divided into 10 regional deployment HUBs. As the Mid-Hudson region HUB, WMCHealth is sharing vaccine-related information with the community. The CDC also issued guidelines that outline a phased approach to distribution of the vaccine.  In addition, vaccine is being shipped on a regular basis to the states which are then distributing it under their own programs.  All of these factors play into when an individual will become eligible to get the vaccine.  As more detailed information becomes available about how, when and where members of our community can receive the vaccine, we will continue to post it on our websites with links to the State’s program. Please check back often for updated information.

Q: What is the phased approach?

A:  Phase One, which is well underway and ongoing, includes healthcare workers and those in residential care facilities.

Phase Two which began January 11, includes vaccination for people age 65 and over, teachers, first responders, public transit workers, grocery store and public safety and corrections workers. The entire community vaccine process is expected to take months to complete.  To keep track of which phases are open for vaccine availability and who is eligible in each phase, please use this link to the state’s website or call The New York State Vaccination Hotline 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829). 

Q: Which vaccine am I getting?

A:  WMCHealth is being provided vaccine via New York State.  New York’s Clinical Advisory Task Force, comprised of leading scientists, doctors and health experts, will review every COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the federal government.  All vaccines released have passed the FDA emergency use authorization process.  Currently, WMCHealth has both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.  Both vaccines are 94-95% effective, and both have similar side effects. The brand of your first dose will be the brand of your second dose.

Q:  Is the vaccine safe?

A:  Yes, the vaccine is considered to be safe. It has been authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and by New York State’s independent COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force.

Q:  I hear there might be side effects?

A:  Currently, according to safety data from the clinical trials, the vaccines have a favorable safety profile, and most of the side effects are limited and mild to moderate. As a precaution, and under state and federal guidelines, WMCHealth has staff and equipment immediately available should a rare, serious side effect occur.

Q:Is it effective?

A:  Yes, each of these vaccines has been shown to be 94-95% effective in preventing illness from the virus if both doses are taken as prescribed. These vaccines are currently the best way to protect oneself from getting ill from the virus. As of now, it is not clear whether a person who received the vaccine can still transmit the virus to others.

Q: Will the distribution of the vaccine be equitable?

A: Yes. The vaccine distribution will be fair and equitable, with outreach to under-served communities to make community members aware of the vaccine, its benefits, and how to get vaccinated.

Q: How many doses do I need? Can we be sure the second vaccination will be available if we get the first one?

A: You will need two doses to have the full effect of the vaccine, either three or four weeks apart, depending on which brand you receive.  The brand of your first dose will be the brand of your second dose.

Q: Do mask and other requirements change if I get vaccinated?

A: No.  At this time, there is no indication that mask and other requirements such as physical distancing will change for those receiving the vaccine.

Q: How long will the effects of vaccination last?

A: This is currently unknown. It is possible the initial doses of the vaccine will provide long-term immunity from COVID-19 or it may be that you will need to be vaccinated every year, similar to the flu vaccine.

Q: I had COVID already. Do I need a vaccine?

A: Yes. There is not enough information available yet to know if, or for how long, natural immunity lasts. There are no known risks to receiving the vaccine based upon whether you have already had the disease.

Q: Can I get COVID from the vaccine?

A: No. This is not possible. The COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States are mRNA vaccines and do not contain the virus itself. This means that the vaccines provide genetic material (mRNA) which “teaches” the body’s cells to make proteins, which in turn stimulate the production of antibodies by the body. These antibodies counteract the ability of the coronavirus to produce its damaging effects and make someone sick.  The mRNA injected with the vaccine quickly disappears and does not result in any other impact.  Again, no virus itself is part of either of these two vaccines so it is impossible to get the illness caused by the virus from these vaccines.

Q:  How do I get more information?

A: New York State has a website for all information related to the COVID-19 vaccines. The URL is ny.gov/vaccine. This website has updated information about the vaccine, the distribution process, list of people eligible for vaccination in each phase, frequently asked questions, and more. This is also where you will find the link for vaccination registration and The New York State Vaccination Hotline which is 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829). 

Sources:  New York State, New York State Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control


WMCHealth Health Equity Task Force

About

WMCHealth’s Health Equity Task Force is comprised of clinical experts and community stakeholders charged with ensuring that everyone in the region has an opportunity to attain the highest level of health as it relates to all facets of COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

View the WMCHealth Health Equity Task Force List

Overarching Focus

Ensuring that health equity is a priority woven into every facet of COVID-19 vaccination efforts (e.g., education, communication, dissemination, challenges, prevention efforts, etc.).  Ensure that the array of diverse community perspectives and concerns are reflected in short-term and long-term vaccination program development and implementation efforts.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • Identify existing health disparities that exacerbate the COVID-19 burden on vulnerable communities and explore impact on possible vaccination efforts
  • Identify existing and prospective vaccination challenges, and broader social inequities, for marginalized communities impacted by COVID-19.  Identify remedial measures to combat identified barriers.
    • External challenges (e.g., transportation, employment, internet access, etc.)
    • Internalized challenges (e.g., immigration status, misinformation, lack of trust, etc.).
  • Identify and examine opportunities to enhance vaccination efforts by providing greater access to vulnerable communities and general preventative medical care to reduce disparities and ensure better health outcomes.
  • Identify most effective communication strategies (reach and resonance) with vulnerable populations.
  • Provide recommendations for community trust building activities regarding vaccinations (e.g., education and awareness raising, durable partnerships with trusted anchor institutions and community organizations, etc.)
  • Provide ongoing feedback from local communities and vulnerable populations to better inform clinical treatment, administrative decision making, policy creation, and procedural implementation related to vaccinations.
  • Provide insight for vaccination efforts through lenses of racial, cultural, societal, and institutional perspectives.  Identify cultural competence and health literacy components for clinical and non-clinical providers designed to enhance the patient experience and ensure greater clinical compliance. 
  • Identify non-clinical points of access for vaccinations embedded in the local communities (e.g. libraries, churches, food pantries, etc.)
  • Ascertain “Best Practices” and other quantifiable success measurements for effective engagement with marginalized populations for future health equity efforts.
  • Leverage Task Force members and their networks for healthcare workforce diversification efforts.  Said diversification has been proven to help reduce both unconscious bias and health disparities, both of which will negatively impact vaccination efforts.
  • Informally “deputize” Task Force members to act as vaccination ambassadors throughout the region thereby enhancing vaccination efforts in vulnerable communities.