Greenleaf Pharmacy will administer Covid-19 vaccines at the James V. Harmon Community Center on Main Street beginning later this month or early March, part of the Biden administration’s new initiative to combat the coronavirus.
On Feb. 2, the administration announced that it would increase the weekly vaccine supply to 10.5 million doses nationwide beginning that week, a 22 percent increase since Biden took office on Jan. 20. A statement from the White House said officials were committed to maintaining this as the minimum level for the next three weeks, and would “continue to work with manufacturers in their efforts to ramp up supply.”
In the same announcement, the “Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for Covid-19 Vaccination” was outlined. It was described as “a public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.”
The Hastings site will provide an alternative to the state-run vaccination facility at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
Through Biden’s program, the federal government will release a limited number of vaccines to select retail pharmacies to vaccinate high-priority groups at no cost. These doses will be over and above the amount allocated to pharmacies conducting vaccination programs at nursing homes and similar facilities. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with states to select their pharmacy partners.
Bill Stroud, supervising pharmacist at the independent drugstore on Warburton Avenue, told the Enterprise on Feb. 5 that he has been a New York State-certified immunizer for many years, administering common vaccines for maladies such as influenza, pneumonia, and shingles.
Anticipating the rollout of coronavirus vaccine to independent drugstores, last August Stroud applied to the State for permission to dispense it; he received approval in December.
“But they cannot give me an exact week when we are going to have [the shipment],” he said. “Last week, the DOH [the New York State Department of Health] told me about four weeks.”
James Harmon Community Center staff members are compiling a waiting list of eligible individuals (age 65 or over, or first responders), who will be called back to make an appointment when the delivery date of the vaccine is known. Residency in Hastings is not required.
Stroud heard that a typical shipment schedule would be 200 doses the first week, 100 doses for each of the following two weeks, and 200 doses again for the fourth week, with that cycle repeating if there is continued demand. But it was too soon for him to know what Greenleaf’s allocation would be.
Greenleaf’s staff is working with Lisa O’Reilly of the Hastings Recreation Department to establish procedures for scheduling vaccine clinics and administering the vaccines.
Stroud wants to set up three-day clinics that would be open for eight hours a day. The Village of Hastings would be responsible for sanitizing the community center.
“I hope to have three or four vaccination stations so we can move people along with social distancing,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of physicians, nurses, EMS workers, EMTs, and volunteers who have offered their services, so it’s a small army.”
“I’m going to be doing fever checks when you come in,” O’Reilly said. Each person will move to the first table to complete their necessary paperwork, go on to another station to get the vaccine, and then move to a final station where they’ll make an appointment for their second shot, and relax for 15 minutes to make sure there are no adverse reactions. “You will be given a card and a smile,” O’Reilly said, referring to a card they will hand out as a record of immunization.
People who had Covid-19 might still want to be vaccinated. According to guidance on the CDC website, “Experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from Covid-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called ‘natural immunity,’ varies from person to person.”
The CDC also advises people who were treated for Covid-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma to wait 90 days before getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
Demand may outstrip Greenleaf’s initial supply. Stroud started receiving phone inquiries as of last Wednesday, Feb. 3, after the federal government’s announcement that the vaccine supply would be extended to pharmacies. The callers’ names went on the waiting list being compiled by O’Reilly, Hastings Senior Advocate Ann Russak, and JHCC employees. To get on the list, call the JHCC at (914) 478-2380, ext. 642, and ask for O’Reilly.
O’Reilly said many seniors told her they would prefer to get their vaccine at the community enter, rather than trying to make a reservation online for the County Center.