SUFFOLK COUNTY

High demand leads to appointment delays

County launches vaccine pilot program to provide additional distribution sites

Posted

Suffolk County residents that are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine are expected to face some delays when finding an appointment this month.
Community members who fall into Phase 1A and 1B criteria can book their vaccine appointment online through the state’s digital system or via Northwell Health. But due to the high demand of the vaccine, available appointments may not be immediately shown.

Appointment times will be added online as vaccine inventory becomes more readily available, according to the Northwell Health website. Locals are encouraged to check back regularly to schedule their appointments, as new appointment times are added daily. Following public backlash on vaccine
rollout delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week noted that the federal government is responsible for the number of vaccines that the state receives.

New York State has been given approximately 250,000 vaccines per week, he said, which substantially limits the supply for the state’s seven million eligible New Yorkers.

“We are in a footrace to get the vaccine into the arms of eligible New Yorkers as quickly and equitably as possible,” Cuomo said. “However, we now have seven million New Yorkers vying for a fraction of doses made available to use by the federal government. We need Washington to step up and increase New York’s supply to make sure everyone who wants the vaccine has the opportunity to get it.”

Last week, the state unveiled a series of new mass vaccination centers, two of
which are on Long Island. The state-run sites are operated at SUNY Stony Brook University Innovation and Discovery Center in Stony Brook and Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh.

On Long Island, 79 percent of the vaccine doses received were administered — that’s 113,854 administered vaccines across the island, according to data from the New York State Department of Health. But those figures exclude vaccinations at nursing homes, which are handled by the federal government.
As of Jan. 17, the county positivity rate was 5.6 percent. That’s a decrease since Jan. 12, when 9.3 percent of people tested in Suffolk County were positive for the virus.

County executive Steve Bellone recognized the positivity rate earlier this month and said that while it’s too early to call it a pattern, “our hope is that this signifies that the worst of the holiday surge is behind us.”

“If we continue to limit gatherings, practice social distancing and wear
masks, in conjunction with vaccinations ramping up, we will save lives and accelerate our recovery,” Bellone said.

But the county’s numbers are still averaging higher than the state’s positivity rate, which on Jan. 17 was 4.3 percent.

The U.K.-based variant of the coronavirus continues to expand at a slow pace in New York State. As of Jan. 17, the total cases of that variant currently sits at 18, with two of those cases in Suffolk County.

On Jan. 18, Suffolk County's positivity rate was 8.4 percent. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, residents can visit https:// am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ or call the vaccination hotline at (833) 697-4829 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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