As COVID-19 cases continue to decrease, the Putnam County Department of Health is entering a new phase in efforts to protect residents from the virus. The campaign “Make Your COVID Shot Count!” is launching now on social, digital and traditional media using the hashtag #MakeItCountPutnam. The goal is to collect and tally the most accurate count of Putnam residents who have received vaccines. Vaccines given out-of-state to Putnam residents, or to Putnam veterans vaccinated by the Veterans Administration (VA), are not automatically counted in the New York State Immunization Information System. This database, better known by health professionals by its acronym NYSIIS and pronounced “nigh-cess,” provides the counts from which the county vaccination rates are calculated by the State.
“Our health department wants to hear from you by email or phone if you have received a vaccine out of state or from the VA,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We want all Putnam residents to make their COVID shot count so we can get an accurate total. Many Putnam veterans have been vaccinated by the Veterans Administration in New York, but those individuals should call the health department to ensure their shots count in our Putnam numbers.”
The Veterans Administration database, which collects vaccine numbers for the veterans they vaccinate, does not share information with NYSIIS. Residents such as those vaccinated on military bases, students attending out-of-state schools, those who winter in Florida, or others who travel frequently and may have opted for a more convenient time and place while away, are also absent from NYSIIS.
“Our health department is eager to make the Putnam total as accurate as possible,” said Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “To understand risk for future surges in cases, it is important to have an accurate account of the vaccination rates in our county. There is also another motivation: As more people get vaccinated, we hope that those who remain uncertain and unvaccinated will hear encouragement from family, friends, and healthcare providers, to take the shot. We are seeking ‘community immunity’—based on a simple, scientific certainty—the more people who are vaccinated, the more everyone is protected.”
After contacting the Health Department, these vaccinations will be entered into the NYSIIS system. With a NYSIIS record, an Excelsior Pass may be available to the vaccinated individual. The Excelsior Pass system allows an individual to download an electronic vaccination card complete with an electronic bar-code like image that can be scanned at venues like concerts and ball parks in New York State where vaccinations are required.
The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com, or visit our social media sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @PutnamHealthNY.