NIAGARA COUNTY: Department of Health Prioritizes At-Risk Populations with Hybrid POD, Partners with Emergency Management

The Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) received 500 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine from New York State and quickly set up Point of Dispensing (POD) operations to ensure prompt use. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose; therefore we prioritized our appointments for Homecare staff and clients as well as individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions,” stated Daniel J. Stapleton, Public Health Director. “We promptly worked with local homecare agencies that service individuals in Niagara County, in addition to group homes, person centered services, and Office for the Aging to share our registration information to effectively prioritize at-risk populations,” said Elise Pignatora, Director of Public Health Planning and Emergency Preparedness.

The Niagara County Department of Health and Niagara County Emergency Management are working together to offer a hybrid Point of Dispensing (POD) Wednesday, March 24. Over 1,550 vaccinations will be conducted that day. While the Niagara County Department of Health conducts Moderna first dose COVID-19 vaccinations inside, the Niagara County Office of Emergency Management will be conducting drive-through Johnson & Johnson vaccination outside on the same day. “Our support of Niagara County PODs has been consistent since the very beginning, and we are happy to provide this additional support to ensure a safe and accessible drive-through vaccination process for at-risk populations,” stated Jonathan Schultz, Director of Emergency Services and Fire Coordinator. “It takes only about 13 minutes from arrival to vaccination for participants at our drive-through portion of the POD,” explained Mr. Schultz.

“We have protocols in place to ensure a safe vaccination process for all participants,” stated Ms. Pignatora. At every POD, wheelchairs are made available by staff and volunteers in Functional Needs roles. Additionally, a team may be sent out to the parking lot to vaccinate individuals in their vehicle as needed. This option is most desired by individuals whose health and safety may be compromised if moved from the vehicle to a public building. “The drive-through model is an ideal option for at-risk populations who are transported to our PODs,” stated Mr. Stapleton. “We are grateful for our longstanding partnership with Niagara County Emergency Management and making this hybrid POD model a success,” he added.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and availability, visit the Niagara County Department of Health website at https://www.niagaracounty.com/health and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/niagaracountyhealth.

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