Nursing home residents, some staff now getting COVID-19 vaccine

Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center Medical Director Dr. Arun Patel gets a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in December at the county nursing home in Olean.

OLEAN — Residents and some staff at the Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Olean were vaccinated Monday with the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccinations, provided by CVS under federal contract, will continue until nursing homes residents and employees and other long-term care facilities in the county have been vaccinated with a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in 21 days.

Walgreens’ contract includes the Cattaraugus County’s Pines facility in Machias, which has not been scheduled yet.

The nursing home residents and staff vaccinations in Cattaraugus County were to have begun in the first wave of vaccinations that started Dec. 14 at Olean General Hospital for its frontline staff, according to Dr. Kein D. Watkins, the county’s public health director.

The first doses of the Moderna vaccine that was approved for emergency use against COVID-19 by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday were to begin being shipped on Monday, Watkins said.

Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped directly to Olean General Hospital and University Primary Care, which will be responsible for scheduling vaccinations with help from the health department.

The next groups to be vaccinated under New York State Health Department protocols include high-priority emergency room, ICU and operating room personnel; emergency medical services personnel; and medical examiners, coroners, funeral workers and other healthcare workers not included in the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Other congregate living facilities, including group homes and other long-term care facilities are next in priority.

“We’re really putting a lot on hospitals,” Watkins said of the new system set up by the state health department.

Catholic Health has been charged with distributing the vaccine in Western New York based on a priority list sent by the state.

“It’s going to be quite a test,” Watkins said. “We are here to assist in any way we can.”

A wider distribution of vaccine is expected to begin in late February to early March, Watkins said. The distribution to the general public is planned for five community points of distribution (PODs) — probably drive-thru facilities much like the COVID-19 testing has been done.

Watkins said he is asking residents to adhere to recommendations made before Thanksgiving and limit the number of individuals in their homes for Christmas to help contain the spread in small groups.

Wear masks, don’t congregate in groups and wash your hands frequently, he advised.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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