‘I Feel Protected’: Long Island Vaccine Sites Expand Access to COVID-19 Injections


This story was reported by Robert Brodsky, Bart jones, David olson, David Reich-Hale Y Jean-Paul Salamanca. It was written by Jones.

More temporary vaccination sites popped up on Long Island on Friday to reach out to seniors in the East End and members of the region’s growing Indian community, as part of a larger push by state and local governments to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines.

In Melville, 237 people were vaccinated at the BAPS Hindu temple dispensing point. Medical staff at Stony Brook University Hospital administered the injections.

Snehal Shah of Nesconset was one of the recipients.

“I feel protected,” he said after receiving the first two-shot vaccine. “I feel like I’m not going to be one of those who is going to spread the germs, the disease, so I feel like I’m doing my civic duty.”

He said the whole process took about half an hour and that he is especially relieved that his 84-year-old mother lives with him.

These efforts continued as Long Island marked a year since the region’s first case of the coronavirus was identified, the beginning of a health crisis that as of Thursday had claimed 6,040 lives in Nassau and Suffolk combined.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran lamented that loss in a statement released Friday, saying the county is working to get back to normal.

“On this first anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Nassau County, we remember the 2,935 precious lives lost and look to the future with renewed hope,” Curran said.

He said Nassau “continues to lead the way” between the big counties of the states “in vaccinating residents, which is a very positive sign for our recovery.”

So far, he added, more than 20% of residents have received at least one injection of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is given in two doses in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna formulations and in one dose with the most recent vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. .

“Although we have seen a significant decrease in cases and hospitalizations since our winter peak, we are not out of the woods yet. I urge residents to remain vigilant in this final stretch,” he added.

At the Melville site, people lined up to get vaccinated on Friday and the waiting list had grown.

Girish Patel, a spokesman for the temple, Long Island’s largest Hindu place of worship, said it was the first of 106 BAPS temples in the United States to run a vaccine clinic.

He said that many members of the Hindu community on Long Island were afraid of receiving the vaccine due to health problems, or needed translators to help fill out forms or register on websites. BAPS volunteers worked with them, even persuading them that the vaccine was good for them and for others.

“Some of them are very afraid of getting the vaccine,” Patel said. “Now they are so happy to have received the vaccine.”

Patel said the temple now has a waiting list of 150 more people who want to get vaccinated and hopes the state will authorize a second clinic.

Vaccines for seniors and teachers

In Riverhead, the local senior center began vaccinating people 65 and older on Friday morning, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

The vaccinations will take place over four days and 500 seniors have already signed up. About 250 local seniors are expected to be vaccinated each day, and 1,000 seniors in total are expected to receive the Moderna vaccine by the end of Tuesday, Aguiar said.

City officials got the news Wednesday night that the New York State Department of Health and Labor Department certified the senior center as a vaccination site, but the City Council had begun pre-registration early. through the city website.

“Riverhead has one of the largest senior populations, and after advocating to bring vaccines to the senior center, the state heeded our call and I thank the state for hearing our voices,” Aguiar said.

Seniors can register online at the city’s website, www.townofriverheadny.gov. The center is at 60 Shade Tree Lane, with vaccinations from 9 am to 4 pm. Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Nassau County and Mount Sinai South Nassau have launched a pilot program to vaccinate area teachers and school personnel from the Island Park, Long Beach, Oceanside and Rockville Center school districts.

The Teacher Vaccination Pilot Program, a joint initiative between the county health department and the Oceanside-based hospital, planned on Friday to vaccinate 300 teachers from those districts at the Mount Sinai South Nassau vaccination center in Rockville Center.

“We know that getting students and teachers back to full, in-person school instruction is critical and this pilot program is essential to help normalize our schools,” said Dr. Adhi Sharma, Mount Sinai South Nassau Medical Director.

Curran, in a statement, added that “protecting teachers and school staff from this virus is key to keeping our children in school.”

June Chang, superintendent of the Rockville Center School District, said vaccinating teachers is important for middle and high school students to return to the classroom full time, a process that is expected to be complete in the coming weeks.

“Teaching in a pandemic world has caused anxiety throughout the year,” Chang said. “As more vaccines arrive, many will feel reassured.”

Kevin Kennedy, a social studies teacher at South Side High School in Rockville Center, said he had tried unsuccessfully for weeks to secure a vaccination appointment at state-run sites.

“I am relieved and very happy,” Kennedy said Friday. “A lot of time has passed.”

Mount Sinai South Nassau in a statement said teachers from those school districts who have not been vaccinated will be invited by their administrations to schedule appointments.

Vaccine scheduling, processing and administration will be handled by Mount Sinai South Nassau nursing and associate medical staff. Immunizations are provided by the Nassau County Health Department.

Nassau Health Commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein said that with the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Long Island this week, access to the vaccine appears to be increasing.

“We have been in a situation where demand has dramatically exceeded supply,” he said. “But the supply is starting to catch up … The sooner we get the vaccine to all arms of Nassau County, the sooner we can get back to normal life.”

LI resident wins lawsuit to visit husband in nursing home

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court requests that the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook be ordered to allow a woman to visit her husband of 60 years.

Mary Mauro wants to visit her husband, Mario Mauro, who has been in the nursing home since January 9, 2020, claims the lawsuit, which was filed by Holtsville attorney Joseph Mauro. He did not return phone calls for comment. It is unclear what his relationship is with Mary and Mario Mauro.

Members of Mario Mauro’s immediate family had helped with his diet before visits were banned in March, and since then, his weight has dropped from 142 to 110 pounds, the lawsuit says.

The visitation ban “prevented Ms. Mauro from helping feed her husband and has led to Mr. Mauro losing more than 30 pounds, which is now life-threatening,” the lawsuit says.

The state has strict rules on nursing home visits, but the lawsuit says a Feb. 22 state health department directive allowing “compassionate care visits” for some residents who have lost weight and may need support from their Loved Ones covers the Mauro situation.

“There is simply no risk that Plaintiff Mary Mauro will enter the facility to help care for her husband” because they are both vaccinated against COVID-19, Mary Mauro would wear a mask and not interact with anyone else at the facility and her husband he would never leave his room.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in addition to an order preventing the home from prohibiting visits from Mary Mauro.

Stony Brook Medicine said it does not comment on pending litigation. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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