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Upstate Medical University begins administering second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to staffers

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras on Wednesday visited Upstate Medical University to see its vaccination operations and take part in a press briefing at the medical school. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University has begun administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to frontline personnel.

The organization has also distributed 100 percent of its initial vaccine allotment after receiving its first three deliveries last month, SUNY said in a Wednesday news release.

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras visited Upstate Medical University on Wednesday afternoon to meet with school leaders and discuss the vaccination process.

More than 6,000 Upstate Medical University staffers received the first dose, Dr. Mantosh Dewan, president, said to open a press briefing at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“Over 100 [employees] have received their second dose, so hopefully they will be fully immunized in a couple weeks,” Dewan added.

Dewan noted that Upstate Medical on Wednesday “also hit 100 percent of our [vaccine] allotment for this week, so we are on track to do almost 1,000 vaccinations every day.”

Dewan spoke to begin the briefing during the SUNY Chancellor’s visit. Malatras came to Syracuse to see Upstate’s vaccination site and described the operations as “going extraordinarily well.”

“I met with the nurses, the phlebotomists, and the pharmacy students and the pharmacists who are helping coordinate this massive, operational exercise of great importance,” Malatras said in his remarks.

Upstate has been vaccinating its own staff, as well as staff from the other hospitals in the five-county region, Dr. Robert Corona, CEO of Upstate University Hospital, said in a response to a reporter’s question during the briefing.

“So we’ve vaccinated staff from [St. Joseph’s Health], from Crouse [Health], from Oneida [Health], from Oswego [Health], from Auburn, and from Cortland,” said Corona.

“Because we have to control the Pfizer vaccine because of the sensitivity of keeping it in deep freeze, we have to have the individuals from those staffs come here [to Syracuse]. Now, those institutions are getting their own allocations as well.”

Upstate Medical University is the regional hub for five counties, Corona noted.

During his visit to Upstate Medical, Malatras met with Dewan, Corona, and health-care personnel to discuss the vaccination distribution process, as well as Upstate Medical’s COVID-19 test, which was recently named most accurate saliva test in the world by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, SUNY said.

The test detects the U.K. strain of the virus, which experts believe is “markedly more contagious” and was discovered in Saratoga County earlier this week.

Upstate Medical’s saliva test will continue to be used regularly by SUNY campuses for mandatory testing of students, faculty, and staff ahead of and throughout the spring semester, per the news release.

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