CHENANGO COUNTY — The Chenango County Health Department recommends that all eligible individuals receive not only a COVID-19 vaccine, but also a COVID booster. With the spread of other coronavirus strains, getting a booster is more important now than ever.
According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), "A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will help all eligible New Yorkers maximize their protection, prolong the vaccine’s durability, and continue to safeguard our communities against the virus."
“COVID-19 vaccines are working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.”
New York State residents aged 12 and up who received the Pfizer vaccine series at least five months ago are eligible for a booster. Residents aged 18 and older that received the Moderna vaccine series at least five months ago are eligible for a booster. Those aged 18 and older who received a Johnson and Johnson vaccine at least two months ago are eligible for a booster.
“Who should get a booster is everyone,” said Chenango County Health Department Director of Environmental Health Isaiah Sutton. “So anybody 12 and up is eligible, and encouraged to get a booster when they're far enough removed from their second dose.”
The Chenango County Health Department offers free vaccine and booster clinics on a regular basis, according to Sutton. The clinic schedule can be found on the Chenango County Health Department website, at https://www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/ by clicking the button that says “General and Vaccine Info.”
Sutton encouraged those looking to get a vaccine to keep an eye on the schedule, as clinics are being added often, but spaces fill up fast. He said there are also other local organizations and businesses offering vaccines as well.
“We're opening clinic sites regularly. They have been filling quite fast, so if it's full when you check please check back in a couple days, cause we'll be issuing another clinic,” he explained. “I know some of the local pharmacies including Walgreen's and Bartle's have been doing booster shots, and the state vaccination sites in Binghamton and Syracuse, Oneonta, are all doing that as well.”
On Friday, January 21, the health department will be holding a clinic for eligible residents aged five years and older to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The clinic will be from 3 to 5 p.m. at the South Plaza clinic site in Norwich.
A booster clinic offering Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson boosters will also be available for eligible residents on Friday, January 28, from 8 to 11 a.m., at the South Plaza clinic site in Norwich.
At-Home Test Kits
Another development in the fight against COVID-19 is the new prevalence of at-home testing kits. At-home tests are a convenient alternative to drive-through testing, and are another tool that can help individuals stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Chenango County Health Department states that “self-tests are one of the many prevention tools we can use to stop the spread of COVID-19, along with vaccination, hand hygiene, masking, and physical distancing. They can give you information about the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Self-tests can be purchased online, in pharmacies, and retail stores, and may be available through schools and other organizations at no cost.”
Anyone who begins experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, is in close contact with someone who tests positive, or attends a large gathering with someone who later tests positive, should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, regardless of vaccination status, according to the health department.
Those who test positive using a home-test kit should also report their results to the Chenango County Health Department, according to Chenango County Emergency Management Director and Fire Bureau Coordinator Matt Beckwith.
“We’re asking you to please notify the health department so they can put you on quarantine and isolation,” he said. “What we’re finding is people are taking the home test kits, they’re testing positive, and they’re on quarantine from work … In order for them to go back to work, they need to have the release papers, and if they don’t have a public health order releasing them then it runs into an employment issue further down the road, you know, allowing them to come back.”
“A lot of places are requiring that release, and if the health department does not know that you’ve tested positive and they can’t track it, they can’t issue the reinstatement orders to let you go back to work,” Beckwith continued.
The Chenango County Health Department offers self-reporting and self-attestation forms on their website, making it easier than ever for county residents to report positive at-home COVID test results, and get back to work after clearing the virus.
“With the proliferation of these home tests, obviously we don’t have the staff capacity to manage all these. We're doing our best,” said Sutton. “So on our website, we've put up a self-reporting form for the home test kits, as well as some self-directed attestation forms that folks can use to get themselves back to work and back to school.”
The forms can be found at co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/ by clicking the button that says “At-Home/Self Test Info.” Those who submit a self-reporting form will receive an automated message from the Chenango County Health Department containing further guidance and documentation.