Governor Andrew Cuomo is optimistic that New York State's first batch of the coronavirus vaccine will be making its way to regions across the state by next week. However, the December 15 date Cuomo has referenced is pending vaccine approval from the FDA, which may come Thursday.

That first available vaccines in New York will come from Pfizer - who says it's version of the COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective. The governor has said the first to be inoculated will be nursing home patients, those who care for them, then high risk healthcare workers. The Mohawk Valley is slated to receive 4,200 doses in the initial phase.

From there, exactly how the Mohawk Valley's first round of the vaccine will be distributed is still unknown, like:

  • Will every nursing home resident in the state be able to get the vaccine?
  • Is it mandatory for those residents and nursing home staff?
  • From there, will the at-risk general public have first dibs, or is it first come, first served?

Oneida County's Public Health Director, Phyllis Ellis, noted that much of what she learns each day about the vaccine comes comes from media reports - or as Governor Cuomo is announcing things LIVE at his press conferences.

''Until we get our direction through NYS DOH, we won't know. My understanding is the state is going to be the recipient of the vaccine, which is not unusual, that is how our preparedness programs have run throughout the years, whether it's equipment or vaccines,'' said Ellis, who is retiring next week.

All the county health departments across the state will have to put plans together for how they distribute the vaccine when we're at the stage of mass, general public vaccination, she said.

And, as to whether nursing residents will have to get the vaccine, or if the patient or their family would need to sign a waiver, volunteering to receive it, Ellis said she wasn't sure but thinks a waiver isn't likely.

''Generally we don't have waivers when something is an already approved vaccine. Whether or not it will be mandatory is another question. And, all the long-term care facilities are under the direction of the New York State Department of Health. Whether that means all nursing home residents must receive the vaccine, or if a determination will be made based on each patients case and condition,'' is still no known, Ellis said.

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