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Onondaga County doctors to choose first patients with underlying conditions for COVID-19 vaccine

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media (file photo)

Onondaga County has figured out how it will distribute scarce coronavirus vaccine to immunocompromised individuals and those with underlying medical conditions.

There won’t be a mad dash to sign up for an appointment at the county’s vaccine pod at the OnCenter when thousands of people with underlying health issues become eligible to get the shot Monday.

Instead, in Onondaga County at least, County Executive Ryan McMahon said Thursday that the first round will be determined by doctors who have the sickest patients.

“We do know there are residents who are transplant recipients. Others who have severe, severe circumstances that they need this shot.  It’s a life or death situation.” McMahon said. “We want to get them first.”

Physicians or the county will alert individuals if they can get the vaccine.

McMahon said he reserves the right to pivot in case the county receives a large number of doses of the vaccine next week. And he expects things to change in week two of the eligibility, once the most ill individuals get a shot.

"For week one these individuals will need a note from doctors. Their doctors are making referrals so that won’t be an issue,” he said. “So week one, I reserve the right to pivot if we get more vaccine, but week two it will be a different process. We may have different points of distribution set up and certainly it will be broadened.”

Other counties in the region may have a different process in place for handling vaccinations for people with underlying conditions. Anyone with one of the conditions listed below can begin signing up for appointments at state run vaccination sites beginning Sunday, Feb. 14.

Beginning February 15, 2021

Adult New Yorkers of any age with the following conditions qualify for the vaccine:

  • Cancer (current or in remission, including 9/11-related cancers)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pulmonary Disease, including but not limited to, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and 9/11 related pulmonary diseases
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities including Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, including but not limited to heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) including but not limited to solid organ transplant or from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, use of other immune weakening medicines, or other causes
  • Severe Obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2), Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease or Thalassemia
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Neurologic conditions including but not limited to Alzheimer's Disease or dementia
  • Liver disease