By Tyronda James
Centrally located, the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center opened Jan. 18 as the newest vaccination distribution site.
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the additional distribution site will allow the county to increase capacity by 700 vaccinations per day to begin. The county is now looking for volunteers for its COVID-19 Vaccine Force to help administer vaccines.
Bello and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza introduced a partnership with the United Way of Greater Rochester, to fill this need through the United Way volunteer portal.
“We need to build a strong and ready vaccine volunteer force that is ready to serve as more vaccines arrive and more sites are established in the coming weeks and months ahead,” United Way President & CEO Jaime Saunders said.
“We are calling on those who are able and want to be part of the solution to join in this historic effort, to be part of the largest public health response in a generation, in order to support the distribution plans of our County and the Finger Lakes hub.”
Monroe County Fleet Center and Monroe County Public Health location at 111 Westfall Rd. are the two other sites.
Volunteers must be 18 or older and will be eligible to receive a vaccination.
Bello said he’s happy that United Way stepped up and partnered to make this happen. He said getting through this pandemic is going to take an incredible partnership across this community. “We know what works, we know what we can do to keep our numbers down. By working together, we will make that happen.”
Both clinical and general volunteers. Nonclinical volunteers are needed for tasks, including registration, data entry, distributing, PPE, and hand sanitizer education and more. Multilingual volunteers and those fluent in American sign language are especially needed.”
The county is also looking to do additional hiring to help with the vaccine distribution.
“We’ll look back on today as a very important day,” said Mendoza. “The day that we came together between healthcare, government and the community to step up and undertake what by every stretch, will be the largest undertaking for public health and our generation.”
Mendoza said hospitalization and ICU numbers are holding steady. “When we look at the positivity rates, they are trending down. We are not at the top of the list of having the highest positivity rate in the state any longer,” he said.
Mendoza cautions restraint and says that private in-home gatherings continue to be the most common mode of transmission for COVID-19, in our community.
“There is reason to be optimistic, but we need to continue to remain vigilant,” Mendoza said. “The way we protect one another, ourselves and our circle is to wear our masks, remain distant at six feet and to be very mindful of gatherings that we are participating in.”
Mendoza said county has no control over the supply or the availability of vaccines. He said what they can control are the efforts to make sure that “their ability to distribute the vaccine in the days, weeks and months ahead keeps pace with whatever that availability of vaccine is. “Our effort right now is to promote vaccinations as much as we can and to be prepared.”
“As vaccines arrive in new sites, the need for volunteers will only continue to increase,” said Saunders.
“If you want to help, there will be a place and a role for you. Apply today!”
To apply, to join the vaccine volunteer force, please visit UWU rochester.org. And the information can be found on our website. UWU rochester.org or at VAXvolunteerunited.org. Volunteer opportunities will be available throughout the 9-county Finger Lakes Region.