The Nassau Coliseum opened its doors to give coronavirus vaccinations on Tuesday as eligibility for New Yorkers to receive inoculations expanded to anyone 50 or older.
The Coliseum is the fourth mass vaccination site to open on Long Island in the last two weeks, along with SUNY Old Westbury, the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University and the Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College.
The Coliseum opened as a mass site after calls from the County Legislature to increase places for Nassau residents who wanted to receive the vaccine. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday was the “soft launch” of the Coliseum’s opening as a vaccination center, but she hopes that the facility can administer 350 to 400 daily inoculations when it ramps up. The Coliseum, she said, has the capacity to conduct around 1,000 daily inoculations.
With state and federal officials hinting at increased vaccination distribution throughout New York in the coming weeks, Curran cited the importance of having as many facilities as possible to get needles in the arms of county residents quickly and effectively.
“At the beginning of the distribution of the vaccines, there was a real problem of supply and demand,” Curran said Tuesday. “The demand is still higher than the supply at this point, but it’s getting closer together. It’s really important to have as many vaccination sites as we can.”
Over the past week, more than one million vaccinations were provided to New Yorkers, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With more inoculations being conducted on a daily basis, Cuomo expanded the eligibility to New Yorkers age 50 or older.
While Cuomo emphasized the importance of remaining diligent with the virus and variants of it still present throughout the nation, the state’s distribution network, he said, is ready to handle more vaccinations provided by the federal government.
“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,” Cuomo said. “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.”
While the state’s distribution efforts are able to handle more vaccinations, some senior citizens still say they are having trouble scheduling appointments to get their first shots.
Curran stressed the importance for seniors to be able to schedule vaccination appointments but said she is also in favor of expanding eligibility as more inoculations are distributed in the state.
“Seniors are the most vulnerable and it is really important they get appointments, but I do believe that as supply opens up, opening up eligibility makes sense as well,” Curran said. “I am a fan of opening up eligibility, especially as we get more supply.”
All vaccinations at the Coliseum and other county sites require appointments, and they can be scheduled by visiting https://www.nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine.
As of Wednesday, more than 246,000 Nassau County residents had completed their vaccine series, with 435,000 receiving at least one dose, according to state figures. Across Long Island, more than 331,000 had completed their series, with more than 614,000 receiving at least one shot so far.