With only 1,000 doses, Onondaga County will hold lottery to get seniors vaccinated

Jan 26, 2021

Onondaga County is hoping to start a lottery-style registration system to ensure there is an equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, among seniors.

Onondaga County will have 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in hand this week. Among those eligible to get it at a Friday clinic, 70,000 residents over the age of 65. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said shortages like this has led to a mad dash online in recent weeks, and the ones hurt the most, non-tech savvy seniors.

"Out of the appointments that become available, there’s so many seniors that don’t even have a chance,” McMahon said. “We’re trying to level the playing field the best we can.”

That means coming up with an online registration system for people over 65 and using a lottery to determine who on the waiting list gets shots in a particular week.

"If you have 10,000 individuals registered, and you all get a number, one to 100, and then you have a lottery, and your number 100 comes up, then all the 100s get an appointment this week, then we could call and tell them this is your appointment," McMahon said.

He emphasized this is a pilot program. The county is still testing out the technological end of things, as well as trying to get pharmacies on board. McMahon hopes the registration can go live before Thursday, so it can be tested out this week.

"We would like to have a certain number of slots Friday dedicated to this to see how this works and how to build off it,” McMahon said.

He expects to go on Facebook live Wednesday afternoon with a final announcement about when and where people can register. He also noted there is still online registration for other eligible individuals who need the vaccine.