Pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic targets minority communities in Onondaga County

Feb 4, 2021

Onondaga County has held a couple of pop-up coronavirus vaccine clinics this week targeting specific populations. County Executive Ryan McMahon said he’s sure there are certain populations so far that have been under-vaccinated, specifically in African American, Latino and New American communities.

"We need to make sure that no members of this community are left behind. And we know just from running this clinic, that these communities have not been represented well yet,” McMahon said. “So that’s why we are doing these pop-up clinics.”

The pop-up clinics this week targeted Syracuse Housing Authority residents and New Americans. The vaccines for these clinics were provided by New York state and were in addition to the county’s regular weekly allotment. McMahon said the county has the connections with communities to make these clinics successful, and they also show why counties should be at the forefront of the vaccination effort, something that isn’t happening now.

“We are being underutilized. Part of that is production and supply,” he said. “But as it increases it needs to come to us. And as that happens we will get people vaccinated very quickly.”

McMahon is encouraged that the state will be sending a 20% increase in vaccine it receives to local governments. Onondaga County has the capacity right now to vaccinate 18,000 individuals a week.  Right now they are only vaccinating about 1,200 because of supply.

Restaurant workers not eligible for vaccine…yet

County officials will be combing through vaccination data before making any decisions about expanding eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to restaurant workers or taxi drivers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that local governments can choose whether to add these individuals to the current list of eligible groups who can be vaccinated. 

With limited vaccine available, McMahon said he’s not ready to do that yet.

“What we have to do is focus in on those who get sick, end up in the hospital and die. Those are who we have to try to figure out, who those members of the community are,” he said. “We know who they are from the data. Eventually, once we get to enough of those residents, we can look at opening it up more.”

McMahon said officials could make a decision on the issue next week, after looking at data from vaccinations at the county POD, the State Fair vaccination site, and Kinney Drugs.