Last week, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran kicked off the opening of the county’s newest COVID-19 vaccination distribution center located at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. The coliseum will begin by vaccinating more than 1,000 residents and as supply and eligibility expand, it will serve as an important portion of the county’s vaccination infrastructure.
“This is the first day that we are offering vaccines at Nassau Coliseum,” County Executive Curran said at the press conference. “Today is just a soft launch, but when it ramps up we will be [vaccinating] probably 350 to 400 a day. We actually have the capacity to do 1,000 a day.”
As most people can conclude, the vaccine is like liquid gold and with issues of supply not reaching enough people who want to be vaccinated, that will soon change thanks to the increase of production from vaccine companies. Johnson & Johnson is expected to deliver 20 million doses alone of its single-dose shot by the end of this month across the country. So far more than 32 percent of county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“At the beginning of the distribution of the vaccine, there was a real problem of supply and demand,” Curran said. “The demand was much higher than the supply. Now, the demand is still higher than the supply at this point, but it is getting closer together. We’re hearing from the state, we’re hearing from Senator [Chuck] Schumer and the federal government, that we will be getting a lot more vaccine in the coming weeks. It is really important to have as many vaccine sites as we can.”
The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is the fifth overall vaccine distribution site in Nassau County joining SUNY Old Westbury, Nassau County Community College in Garden City, Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury and Jones Beach. There have also been pop-up vaccination clinics in the past few weeks in the communities of Elmont, Glen Cove, New Hyde Park and Westbury. Those pop-up clinics have succeeded in vaccinating close to 500 people at each location.
If you register to receive the vaccine at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, vaccinations will be held in the lower level below the ice where the New York Islanders play. Additionally, people will have to go through the coliseum’s metal detectors before they can enter the lower level.
“As we get more supply, we continue to build more vaccine infrastructure and it’s really important,” Curran said. “[Nassau Coliseum] is an iconic building. It is in the heart of the county, it’s easy to get to and it just makes sense to do vaccine distribution here.”
And with Governor Andrew Cuomo now allowing people who are age 50 and above to be eligible for vaccination, it is important now more than ever to increase that infrastructure.
“We continue to kick vaccinations into overdrive throughout the state by expanding eligibility, establishing new vaccination sites and allowing providers to reach new populations,” Cuomo said in a statement. “More New Yorkers are getting vaccinated every single day, but we still have a long way to go before defeating the COVID beast and reaching safety. New York’s distribution network is at the ready to handle an expected increase in supply and we’re excited to expand eligibility even further to New Yorkers over the age of 50 as we move to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.”
And as more supplies come rolling into the county, Curran said that the vaccine is just too precious to waste, but does have one concern however.
“One thing that I’m concerned about is that people who might have an appointment for April or May gets an earlier appointment as more supply comes, they cancel that appointment and it goes unfilled, and we potentially waste vaccine,” she said. “The vaccine is also our passport back to normal. The more people get it, the more businesses can function, the better our schools can function [and more].”
Visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine if you want to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. However, if you want to make an appointment at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, there is one extra step that needs to be taken. You need to put in a special code, which is Nassau21, when registering. The county also has a special phone line for seniors who aren’t tech savvy. To make an appointment, seniors can call 516-227-9590. The county’s Department of Social Services will help callers make their appointment.