Utica, N.Y. - Governor Cuomo says the vaccination rate amongst healthcare workers across the state is lower than he'd like to see and needs to improve in the event of a second wave.
During his COVID-19 press briefing on Monday, Cuomo announced the current vaccinate rate for healthcare workers across the state is 62.8 percent.
He also broke it down by region with the Mohawk Valley Region being second lowest at 60.6%, second only to Long Island at 60.1%.
These numbers are just for a first dose, meaning only 60.6 percent of healthcare workers in our Mohawk Valley Region have received a first dose, and they have had five weeks to get one.
The bottom four hospitals on the list in the Mohawk Valley Region are :
MVHS's St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica : 59.7%
MVHS's Faxton St. Luke's Healthcare in Utica : 57.1%
Rome Memorial Hospital in Rome : 53.5%
Bassett Healthcare's A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta 40%
Governor Cuomo says these numbers are a major concern.
Cuomo says although the curve is coming down in every region of the state as far as infections and hospitalizations go, he is very concerned that the new strains of COVID recently detected around the world, first in the UK and now in South Africa and Brazil that are reportedly more contagious, could ultimately cause a second wave here in the New York State, "Unvaccinated doctors and nurses are still a problem. You put unvaccinated nurses and doctors together with a second wave, that should keep us all up at night."
Each of the hospitals with the lowest vaccination rates in the Mohawk Valley Region released a statement to News Channel 2 on Monday.
A statement from Rome Memorial Hospital's Infection Prevention Director Emma Ingalls says, "Rome Memorial Hospital reports on a total of 1025 employees, including full-time, part-time and per diem staff as well as 176 medical providers who may have privileges at other hospitals. Many per diem staff and providers have received it elsewhere but have not provided the hospital with documentation of the immunization yet, so the percentage doesn't reflect all those who have been immunized. Initially, the state allocated only 400 doses for hospital staff at highest risk. Many more have been vaccinated as the guidelines allowed more support staff to receive the vaccine. However, demand outpaced supply quickly as the state opened up eligibility to more high priority groups. The hospital has been out of vaccine since January 13."
Ingalls says staff members have been educated on the importance of getting the vaccine, "In addition to providing written education, clinical leadership rounded daily throughout hospital departments "myth busting" and encouraging vaccination, the overwhelming message was 'the only way this ends, is with the vaccine.' Healthcare workers are being vaccinated and actively encouraging others to be vaccinated because it is safe and effective,"
A statement from MVHS Spokesperson Caitlin McCann reads as follows, "MVHS began distributing vaccines to our employees, along with other local healthcare workers and essential employees – those in group 1A – in December 2020. As was noted in Governor Cuomo's press briefing today, the Mohawk Valley Region is one of the highest performing in the state when it comes to the distribution of the vaccine. This is good news. We have also been making great progress vaccinating our employees and others in group 1A. As the vaccine has been rolling out, more and more employees and healthcare workers are seeking to be vaccinated. However, as we reported last week, MVHS is now out of first dose vaccines and have employees and healthcare workers waiting to be vaccinated. We do not believe these numbers indicate anything about the staff's concerns about the safety of the vaccine and to read into it in that manner is irresponsible. Our staff has been extensively educated through leadership rounding, daily written communication and, most recently, a virtual Q&A for our staff to ask questions about the vaccine, which had excellent attendance. It was also posted so that those who missed the presentation could watch.
The vaccination process is continually evolving and changing as information is gathered. We look forward to continuing our part in this process and increasing the number of vaccinated healthcare workers as soon as we get more vaccine."
Finally, Bassett Healthcare Network Communications and Marketing Director Karen Huxtable released the following statement to News Channel 2 regarding the 40% vaccination rate at Bassett's A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta, "A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta continues to hold clinics and will have nearly 50% of its staff vaccinated by the end of this week. Of the hospital staff not yet vaccinated, there are a number that declined for medical reasons – such as other immunization or COVID illness – both require a waiting period before being able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Importantly, vaccine is not being wasted. Fox used nearly all of its initial allocation, 94%, to vaccinate community health care workers in addition to staff. In the region served by Bassett Healthcare Network, close to 5,000 staff and community health care workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19; additional clinics will be scheduled as vaccine becomes available from NYS."