Op-Ed: Vaccine Distribution Has To Get Better

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Richard J. Nicolello

The state’s vaccination program is failing our most vulnerable residents. Our medical professionals have known since the beginning that COVID-19 is more likely to cause severe illness and death in the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

Yet with millions eligible for the vaccine and a limited number of doses available, there is an ongoing mad scramble to obtain appointments, with shifting rules and overloaded websites and call-in numbers. Seniors in particular have had difficulty navigating the system. The result is that those who are most vulnerable often cannot get the vaccine they desperately need.

I have joined with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and across the state to call for a pre-registration system, such as is used in New Jersey, Illinois, California and Florida. Residents should be able to enter their contact information with vital statistics such as age, occupation and underlying conditions. The state and/or local government can then use the database to identify and prioritize those most at risk so that they can get an early appointment.

I am also advocating that the state open a mass vaccination site at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum similar to the sites at Yankee Stadium and Citifield, where thousands are being vaccinated every day.

While the numbers are improving, Long Island’s positivity rate has been the highest in the state for weeks. Moreover, demographically Nassau County has a higher percentage of seniors than in other regions in our state and country.

A mass vaccination site at the Nassau Coliseum makes perfect sense. The location is ideal with easy access and plenty of space and parking to accommodate staffing and provide the necessary protocols to maintain safe social distancing. As the supply of doses begins to flow increase, the site could also help handle larger amounts of individuals daily.

We must do more to protect our residents, including our most vulnerable. These commonsense measures will more quickly reduce the number of serious illnesses and assist our county and region to emerge from the pandemic.

Richard J. Nicolello
Presiding Officer
Nassau County Legislature

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