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Capital Region News

New Mass Vaccination Site Opens At Albany’s Washington Avenue Armory

The Washington Avenue
Dave Lucas
The Washington Avenue Armory

Area residents started receiving COVID-19 vaccines at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany this morning.

Officials gather behind a FEMA bus outside Albany's Washington Avenue Armory.
Credit Dave Lucas / WAMC
Officials gather behind a FEMA bus outside Albany's Washington Avenue Armory.

Residents of Albany, Troy and Schenectady started receiving vaccines in the morning. The federally-run site is expected to administer 1,000 shots a day to people living in under-served areas. Denise Shellhouse is from Troy. “It's easy, it's painless, let's get the shots in the arms.”

Representatives from FEMA and the Armory were joined by state and local officials including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who pointed out that as of Tuesday, a fifth of Albany County residents have received at least their first shot.

"And this site is going to help us to increase that total and help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. Once we get through the first 10 days of vaccinations focused on residents and those targeted zip codes in Albany, Schenectady and Troy and I believe Rensselaer, this armory is going to be open to all eligible city of Albany residents as well as Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. So this is going to create another opportunity to be vaccinated. If you look inside, it's a very welcoming site. I encourage our residents to visit the I am eligible website at New York dot gov, or call the COVID hotline 833-697-4829 and you can schedule an appointment.”

While officials are confident the Armory site will address several vaccine distribution-related issues including availability, disparity and equity, they say it's too early to determine whether the underserved are actually turning out at the site. Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs with some numbers:

CDTA provided shuttle service from designated parking areas to the Washington Avenue Armory.
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
CDTA provided shuttle service from designated parking areas to the Washington Avenue Armory.

"In the Capital Region, when we look at members of our white community, those who received their first vaccination, that percentage is around 92 percent. And then when we look at individuals from our Black community, that percentage is hovering around 3.4 percent. Unacceptable. And then when we look at our brothers and sisters in the brown community, our Hispanic and Latino communities hovering around 2 percent, or less than percent. Unacceptable."

FEMA's Robert Premus says the facility is looking to provide 1,000 doses a day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

"We're going to be running approximately 60 days, we're closing in April. So we have the Pfizer vaccine here at the Albany CVC. When patients receive their first dose here, they're going to automatically have an appointment for their second dose three weeks later."

Democratic State Assemblyman John McDonald is also a licensed pharmacist in Cohoes:

"We knew that those individuals who had resources, were going to be able to make the appointment to get the vaccines. And we knew unfortunately, that with the dwindling supply, the bigger supply, they were going to be people who are left out. That felt like they were not part of the situation. I call it CVA — CVA in the healthcare world is cardiovascular accident. Now it's called COVID vaccine anxiety, as one who's been doing it in his own practice in the pharmacy, when you've got 300 people and get vaccine and 5000 people waiting, it causes a lot of stress they feel left behind."

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