By Rita J. Egan and Julianne Mosher
With last week’s announcement that Suffolk County Community College in Selden will be the county’s third mass-vaccination site, in addition to the SCCC campuses in Brentwood and Riverhead, more people are itching to get their shots.
Many, who over the last several months expressed discontent with the vaccination process, were finally able to get their appointments.
Mary McCarthy, a 98-year-old Sound Beach resident, was anticipating her shot. Earlier this week, she got her first injection.
“It didn’t hurt a bit,” she said. “I feel fine. No aftershock or anything, and I hope after the shots we’ll get back to normal so I can go see my friends again.”
The senior said she is most excited to get back with her group, where in pre-COVID times, they’d play cards every week.
Her granddaughter helped McCarthy set up the appointment at Walgreens in Medford. Her second shot will be 28 days from the first round, closer to home in the Miller Place location.
She has advice for people who might be skeptical.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “It didn’t hurt a bit, and you’ll feel better knowing that you won’t get anything else.”
Three Village resident Stefanie Werner went to the vaccination site at Stony Brook University with her 81-year-old father. As a teacher, who also has an underlying heart condition, Werner was also able to get the vaccine.
“Even though booking our appointments was stressful and nerve-racking, the actual experience was anything but,” she said. “The site is extremely well organized, with all aspects, from check-in to our 15-minute post-observation, coordinated and easy to follow.”
Werner commended the individuals working at the SBU location “from the officer at the entrance, to the members of the National Guard guiding the outside check-in — out in the snow no less — to the RNs at the registration desk and the vaccinators who were friendly and comforting, all while plunging a needle swiftly and painlessly into our arms.”
“These people are the frontline to our return to normalcy,” she said. “They are deserving of recognition for their hard work and empathy as we continue our ascent out of this pandemic.”
Due to her health problems, Werner said she has been vigilant during the pandemic.
“I honestly don’t think I am going to change my ways much after the second dose, especially with all the new variants and the fact that my daughter is in school five days,” she said. “There are still too many unknowns, and I absolutely feel more people should be vaccinated before I return to some semblance of my old normal. It’s my hope that people maintain COVID protocols until our safety and security is more certain.”
Adam Fisher of Port Jefferson Station also headed to the university with his wife where they “deeply appreciate the perfect organization. Our thanks to the person or persons who organized this program and all the people who staffed the site. The people were helpful, cheerful and welcoming. The shot itself was painless.”
He said the entire process went well and was a smooth process.
“From start to finish we were guided through it,” he said. “The staff was helpful, cheerful, welcoming — they could not have been nicer. The vaccination itself was painless — the most pain-free injection I ever had.”
Fisher said he felt “absolutely fine,” with the exception of a mild headache that two Tylenol tablets fixed.
“I urge everyone to be vaccinated,” he said, adding that after their second shots, the couple are looking most forward to being together with their children and grandchildren again.
On Feb. 18, the university announced it reached 25,000 people with vaccinations within one month since the first vaccines were shipped for the general public.
“The fight against COVID-19 has been a difficult and long one, but SUNY campuses have remained steady each step of the way as the target has moved in beating back the pandemic,” said State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras in a statement. “I thank Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis and her leadership team for making this effort a priority, and for ensuring that Long Islanders have the protection they need to end this pandemic.”
The new SCCC site will add about 8,000 more vaccines as of this week.
Paul Guttenberg, of Commack, is about to turn 52. As an EMT/driver for the Commack Volunteer Ambulance Corps, he was able to get the vaccine and has already received both doses at the Long Island Ducks stadium through the Northwell Health program.
“I had no side effects other than a sore arm and was tired for about one day,” he said, adding it was the same for both times.
Guttenberg, who is a sales rep in field sales, said he would like to return to a normal work schedule. He is also looking forward to traveling again and seeing his family, including his parents who live in Cincinnati, Ohio, “without fear of getting others sick with COVID.”
“What would make me happy is to see 80% or more of this country get vaccinated and put an end to this pandemic,” he said.
Tara Shobin, 45, of Smithtown, was able to get the vaccine because she’s a teacher. She received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine Feb. 6.
“I was lucky enough to have my cousin let me know that appointments were available at Nassau Community College which was only available to teachers,” Shobin said.
The Smithtown resident said when she showed up for her Feb. 6 appointment, she waited no more than five minutes.
“As I was waiting, I was holding back tears because I finally could see an end to this horrible virus,” she said.
After getting the shot, Shobin was told to go to the waiting room for 15 minutes so she could be monitored. She said she felt fine until the next day but her reaction was mild.
“I had a very sore arm and a slight headache,” she said.
Shobin said she’s looking forward to life returning to normal and doing things with her family, which includes her husband and two children, such as going on vacation, visiting museums and socializing.
“It crushes me to see my children’s life hindered so much,” she said. “I try to help people get appointments if I can. I can’t wait to see this horrible virus behind us. Let’s crush this virus!”