Seniors can call for vaccination appointments

Matt Kelly
The Chronicle-Express

PENN YAN – Yates County Public Health and Pro Action of Steuben and Yates have launched a dedicated phone number and waitlist to help individuals make appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine here in Yates County. The service is specifically intended for eligible individuals 65 years and older who have an underlying medical condition and who do not have access to the internet. The phone number is 315-531-3219.

According to Zack Housworth, Director of Aging and Nutrition for Pro Action of Steuben and Yates, this is the official waitlist for Public Health which is being managed by staff at Pro Action.

When an individual calls the phone number, an intern will run through several questions to confirm that the person is in fact pat of the eligible population that the waitlist serves. People meeting that criteria will be added to the list in the order they called. If, for example, a person calls and leaves a voice message, that person would be added to the list according to the time they called.

“It’s first come, first serve, and we’re trying to honor that as much as possible," says Housworth.

When Public Health receives doses designated for individuals with underlying medical conditions, the department will contact Pro Action and request a certain number of people from the waitlist to fill slots at the subsequent clinic. Pro Action has also started working with the local CVS to fill vaccine appointments in this same way; forty individuals on the list have been registered for vaccinations at the pharmacy in the coming weeks.

Housworth says Pro Action would be happy to work with other providers as well. “We’ll happily register them so we can get these seniors taken care of as soon as possible," he says.

The phone number and waitlist have been up and running for two weeks. Individuals on the list will be scheduled for appointments on a weekly basis, depending on the supply of vaccine that providers receive and the clinics they have scheduled. So far there have been up to 200 names on the waitlist at any given time, and at least 50 people have received appointments to date.

The reason the waitlist is not open to all eligible individuals, Housworth explains, is because the guidance for different providers on who they can (and cannot) vaccinate is "convoluted.” "So to simplify it for us, this waitlist is for people 65 and over with comorbidities," he says. "Because they are going to be eligible with any one of the providers that reaches out to us.”