Most Tri-Lakes residents have been partially vaccinated

Nurse Gail Lautenschuetz draws a dose of coronavirus vaccine Feb. 25 at the North Country Community College gym in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

SARANAC LAKE — More than half of Tri-Lakes residents have been at least partially vaccinated, new state and county vaccine data shows.

This data from Franklin County Public Health and the state Immunization Information System, shared with the Enterprise on Friday, offers the first public glimpse at the progress of this historic vaccine rollout effort at the local level. It also sheds light on the number of locals who have chosen not to or have been unable to get vaccinated so far.

The data, which is broken down by ZIP code rather than by municipality, shows that more than half of residents living in the 12983 and 12946 ZIP codes — Saranac Lake and Lake Placid — have been at least partially vaccinated. Tupper Lake’s 12986 ZIP code has just below half of eligible people at least partially vaccinated.

In Saranac Lake’s 12983 ZIP code, 3,476 people have received at least one vaccine dose, according to Franklin County Public Health. That would mean, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimate, about 57% of the eligible population has been vaccinated in that ZIP code.

At least 78% of Saranac Lake residents aged 65 and older — who are considered more at-risk of death or serious illness from the virus — have been at least partially vaccinated, according to Franklin County Public Health.

In Tupper Lake’s 12986 ZIP code, about 47.2% of the eligible population, or 2,371 people, have gotten at least partially vaccinated, according to Franklin County Public Health. Again, state data places the number slightly higher at 2,389 people in this ZIP code at least partially vaccinated, as of April 4.

About 74% of Tupper Lake’s residents over the age of 64 have gotten at least partially vaccinated, according to Franklin County Public Health.

State data shows that 2,814 people who live in Lake Placid’s 12946 ZIP code have been at least partially vaccinated as of April 4. Based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimate for this ZIP code, that would mean 76.3% of eligible people have been at least partially vaccinated.

As of April 4, 594 people in the Wilmington ZIP code, 739 people in Jay, 938 people in AuSable Forks, 100 people in Ray Brook, 465 people in Bloomingdale, 465 in Long Lake, 430 people in Keene, 301 people in Keene Valley, 294 people in Lake Clear and 209 people in Paul Smiths have been at least partially vaccinated, according to state data.

State-run clinics continue to dole out the highest number of vaccine doses in this region, with more than 107,000 vaccine doses administered as of April 11. Pharmacy chains have administered the second-highest number of vaccines in this region at 56,899 doses.

As of April 11, the Saranac Lake-based Adirondack Health alone reported administering 3,147 vaccine doses since late December 2020, according to the data from the state Immunization Information System.

At the federal level, the Biden administration announced this past Thursday that it will air ads both online and on television to encourage Americans to get COVID-19 vaccines. Recent polling from the Pew Research Center, Monmouth University and Quinnipac University shows vaccine hesitancy remains particularly high among white evangelical Christians and Republicans. About 45% of white evangelicals who were surveyed said they would not get vaccinated, according to the Pew Research Center. About 45% of Republicans who were surveyed by Quinnipac said they were not planning to get vaccinated.

There are a variety of reasons people may be hesitant to get the vaccine, such as skepticism over the vaccines’ safety.

One part of the hesitancy, for some Christians, appears to be a belief among some that the vaccine contains tissue from aborted fetuses. Lab-replicated fetal cells, derived from elective abortions that took place decades ago, were used in testing some of the vaccines — including the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The J & J vaccine further used fetal cell lines in developing, confirming and producing its vaccine. However, none of the COVID-19 vaccines includes fetal tissue, and more abortions aren’t required to manufacture the vaccines, the New York Times reported. Scientists have used these lab-replicated cells in vaccine and treatment research for a variety of diseases, including chickenpox and hepatitis A, over the past few decades.

The Vatican released a statement late last year telling Roman Catholics that it’s morally acceptable to use any of the COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recommended that Catholics choose either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines rather than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because “if one can choose among equally safe and effective vaccines, the vaccine with the least connection to abortion-derived cell lines should be chosen.” Bishops are divided on whether the J & J vaccine is equally morally acceptable.

National Association of Evangelicals President Walter Kim and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post that they agreed with the Vatican’s stance, and that “the use of these vaccines is not only consistent with a pro-life ethic, but is itself a recognition of the value of protecting life — especially that of vulnerable elderly and those with compromised immune systems.”

There is a COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned at the Saranac Lake Free Library on April 29, hosted by Franklin County Public Health. The clinic is open to every New Yorker over the age of 17. The Moderna vaccine will be administered there. Appointments for the clinic can be made by visiting tinyurl.com/sllibraryvaxclinic or calling 518-481-1111.

There is also a vaccine clinic at St. Andre’s Outreach Center, 12 Homestead Park, in Malone this Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. More information on the clinic can be found at www.franklincountyny.gov under the coronavirus update tab.


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