Albany County: Vaccine sign-ups using unauthorized link will not be honored – Times Union

ALBANY — The Albany County Department of Health is investigating after several hundred people signed up for a vaccine clinic this week using a link that was not provided by the county.

Mary Rozak, a spokesperson for the county, said in a statement Wednesday that the link appears to have originated from a staff member at a local school. Hundreds signed up Sunday afternoon for a spot at a clinic scheduled for Thursday. Later Sunday, a communication was shared with the district to inform those who signed up that their appointments could not be honored, she said.

Efforts are underway to investigate how the link got out, Rozak said.

In Albany County, some teachers say they were able to set up appointments early through various web links that circulated in Facebook groups and text message chains. The online forms – hosted by the state Department of Health on behalf of care providers like Hometown Healthcare in Schenectady – asked enrollees to certify that they would be eligible “at the time of the appointment.”

Teachers in North Colonie Central Schools told the Times Union Monday they were notified by school officials that a link they used to sign up for upcoming appointments at the Times Union Center in downtown Albany was supposed to be inactive and they would have to cancel their appointments and re-enroll. But by then most available appointments had been snapped up.

Official sign-up via the county health department link occurred this week on Tuesday and Wednesday only. The county Department of Health asked residents who signed up on an earlier link not to come to the clinic and to schedule an appointment using the state’s Am I Eligible? website.

United Way hotline taking vaccine questions

Albany County is partnering with the United Way of the Greater Capital Region to help reduce call volume at the county health department by promoting the United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline for COVID-19 vaccine questions.

County Executive Dan McCoy announced the partnership Wednesday, and said the hotline is available to assist residents with questions related to vaccine eligibility and vaccine distribution site locations — questions that are currently overwhelming local health departments dealing with record COVID-19 caseloads and vaccine rollout at the same time.

“We know demand is high to get the vaccine out to those who now qualify in the 1b phase, especially our seniors and those with compromised immune systems,” McCoy said. “In order to relieve some of the pressure from high call volumes, I’m happy to have United Way and their 211 hotline helping us get information out to those who need it faster. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible to get the shot or if you want to know where to get it, please dial 2-1-1.”

Since March 2020, the United Way hotline has connected tens of thousands of local residents to services throughout the pandemic.

New cases, deaths

Eight more Capital Region residents have died due to complications from COVID-19, local counties announced Wednesday.

Albany County confirmed three deaths: a man in his 70s, a woman in her 80s, and a woman over 100.

Coronavirus resources

Detailed map: Check out the Times Union’s New York Coronavirus Case Tracker.

Testing: Local testing sites for COVID-19. Coronavirus testing results for every New York county.

Vaccinations: Track vaccine roll-out in New York. Plus, get answers to commons questions and submit your own here.

School updates: COVID-19 cases and quarantines in Capital Region schools.

Lives lost: Share a remembrance of a Capital Region resident who died from COVID-19.

Daily email: Sign up for the free Coronavirus Updates newsletter.

Schenectady County also confirmed three deaths Wednesday. All the victims were women, and included one in her 50s and two in their 60s.

Rensselaer County said it lost two residents: a man from North Greenbush and a woman from Schodack.

A total of 668 Capital Region residents are now known to have died from the disease.

The chart shows daily deaths related to COVID-19 in the eight counties of the Capital Region.
Source: Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracking project
Graphic by Cathleen F. Crowley/Times Union

Counties are still seeing high numbers of new cases each day. Albany County reported 217 new cases Wednesday, followed by Rensselaer County with 188, Schenectady County with 120, Warren County with 58, and Columbia County with 44.

The eight-county area is averaging 992 new cases a day, down slightly from a peak of 1,009 observed Sunday.

Meanwhile, hospitals in the area reported 525 COVID-19 patients on Tuesday, down slightly from an all-time high of 529 the day before. The percent of hospital beds that remain available in the region fell slightly to 24 percent Wednesday. ICU capacity is even lower, at 20 percent.

The chart shows daily hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the eight counties of the Capital Region. Graphics by Cathleen F. Crowley and Bethany Bump/Times Union (About the data)

Rachel Silberstein contributed.

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Albany County: Vaccine sign-ups using unauthorized link will not be honored – Times Union

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