Orleans, lagging in vaccines, expects big allotment to help catch up

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2021 at 8:30 pm

‘Orleans County is significantly behind when it comes to vaccination rates.’ – Public Health Director Paul Pettit

ALBION – Orleans County currently is in last place among the nine counties in the Finger Lakes Region for the percentage of the population that has received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In Orleans, 3,491 people or 8.6 percent of the county’s 40,612 residents have received the first dose of the vaccine. That is about 1,000 behind Wyoming County, which is the second lowest in the Finger Lakes at 11.1 percent. State-wide the vaccination rate is 12.3 percent for at least the first dose.

That county with 40,085 residents has nearly the same population as Orleans. But it has 4,459 residents who have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

The data is available on the state’s Vaccine Tracker. Paul Pettit, the public health director in Genesee and Orleans counties, said state officials have noticed Orleans is lagging behind other counties in the region.

“Orleans County is significantly behind when it comes to vaccination rates,” Pettit said this evening during a conference with elected officials in Orleans County. “It’s not a surprise because we haven’t been getting much of the vaccine.”

The state has committed to sending 1,170 additional doses to Orleans to help the county get caught up in the region.

“That will get us in line with other counties,” Pettit said. “We’re waiting on verification when it will get here.”

The additional doses are on top of the county’s weekly allotment. This week that is 400 doses.

The 1,179 doses will be distributed by the Orleans County Health Department, and likely some of the pharmacies in the county, Oak Orchard Health and Orleans Community Health.

“We’ve reached out to our partners to spread out the vaccines and to get in as many arms in county residents as we can,” Pettit said about the 1,179 doses. “Our plan is to get that out the door within a couple days once we get it.”

In addition to the 3,491 Orleans County residents who have received at least the first dose, 1,936 have received both doses and are done. (Wyoming, with 2,796 second doses, also is ahead of Orleans.)

Genesee County has had 7,222 or 12.6 percent of its 57,511 resident get at least the first dose and 3,875 are done with both doses.

The percentage of residents in each Finger Lakes county that has received at least the first dose includes:

• Genesee, 12.6 percent

• Livingston, 13.0 percent

• Monroe, 13.7 percent

• Ontario, 15.1 percent

• Orleans, 8.6 percent

• Seneca, 11.5 percent

• Wayne, 11.3 percent

• Wyoming, 11.1 percent

• Yates, 13.1 percent

Orleans County officials have used the low vaccination rates in an appeal to the state for a mass vaccination clinic at Genesee Community College in Batavia, which could be the base for serving residents in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, as well as other nearby counties with residents who want to use the GCC site which is close to the Thruway.

The three counties are waiting to hear from the Governor’s Office and State Department of Health if the mass vaccination clinic will be approved. The counties have asked for staffing assistance for the clinic from the National Guard.