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covid-19 vaccine

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You would think a global pandemic that has lasted nearly a year would have gotten New York more organized, right? 

In the beginning, none of us had any idea what was going on with COVID-19. Every day was a new battle, and we had to evolve everything in our lives constantly. 

That was OK. It was fair. The virus was new and we, as Americans, never experienced anything like this before. There was a learning curve. 

Back in March, April and even into June, it was a little more understandable knowing that getting tested for the coronavirus was hard. We didn’t have enough testing, supplies or even gloves for the nurses and doctors to wear as they administered the swab. 

Fine. But why is it almost February 2021 and we still have practically no organizational skills? 

Why is it that New Yorkers are told one thing about testing and now vaccines, but when they try to take advantage of it, they’re denied? 

We have co-workers, family members and friends who should be getting their vaccines. They’re in the most at-risk age group, they’re workers in a medical office but aren’t first responders, they’re out in the public, working as cashiers at grocery stores and big-box retailers taking money from people they don’t know. 

Why can’t they get the vaccine yet? 

Reports say that there isn’t enough available yet — and supplies, once again, are low. 

We understand that. We understand that there are more than 7 million people on Long Island alone. 

But what we don’t understand is why there’s little transparency, and contradicting reports. Why can some people get it and others cannot? 

We have heard stories of some elderly people who cannot get an appointment at all, and no one is there to help them. We hear other stories that people waited in line for nearly five hours. Other stories say that they drove up to the site and were finished in 10 minutes.

We just want answers. We want a plan. We want a serious plan that will give us a play-by-play on what to do, what to expect and a timeline. 

Curveballs will happen. We saw that a lot in 2020. 

But clearly the federal, state and local governments did not have “to stay organized with anything related to COVID” on their New Year’s resolutions list. 

This is not the time to go with the flow. Lives are at stake. 

State Senator Mario Mattera at the podium. Photo by Kimberly Brown

By Kimberly Brown

Republican elected officials gathered at a press conference in Hauppauge Thursday, Jan. 14, calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on the state’s failed vaccine rollout.

Elected officials in Hauppauge. Photo by Kimberly Brown

State senators, including Mario Mattera (R-St. James) and Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), demanded that Cuomo implement a plan to fix issues that have arisen since the vaccine was authorized to be distributed.

Senior citizen and West Babylon resident, Anna Foley, shared her experience of how difficult it has been to obtain the vaccine, which she has still not received.

“I’m 83 years old, fighting two types of cancer and other underlying medical problems,” she said. “I can’t seem to get anyone to help. I have looked at the New York State website, called pharmacies, doctors, hospitals, and I even tried my union to see if I can get any information, to no avail.”

Foley mentioned the difficulties senior citizens are facing while trying to make an appointment for the vaccine, saying that most people ages 80 and over are not computer savvy, and the locations where the vaccine is administered are too far to drive to.

Mattera pointed out how the federal government still has not released the new vaccine to pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS, giving residents fewer options of locations where they can receive the vaccine.

State Senator Mario Mattera at the podium. Photo by Kimberly Brown

In his plea to the governor, Mattera said, “Get the vaccine here and get more locations. Right now, there are four locations, and do you know what they say? They say, ‘We don’t know what to do, we can’t help you.’ It’s unacceptable.”

The partial and full closings of businesses, mandated by Cuomo, were intended to combat rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. However, Palumbo said even though businesses are partially closed, the cases are still increasing.

“The Legislature needs to get involved, we need to get control back,” he said. “We need to get those vaccinations out, and as quickly as possible — not throw them in the garbage.”

Many of the politicians also discussed the bill Cuomo signed into law June 17, which would allow every pharmacist in New York state to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. State Assemblyman Doug Smith (R-Holbrook) demanded to know why the bill has not been put into full force.

“Now we’re in January, governor, where is your plan?” Smith said. “Why is every single pharmacy in the state of New York not able to administer this vaccine?”