Pictured Above: Stony Brook-Eastern Long Island Hospital Emergency Department Chief Dr. Lawrence R. Schiff took the vaccine on Monday.

As the two approved Covid-19 vaccines begin to be distributed more widely to the community in the coming weeks, health care leaders and elected officials are urging members of the public to take the shots.

The first approved vaccine, by Pfizer-BioNTech, arrived on the East End last week, when frontline health care workers at Peconic Bay Medical Center began receiving vaccinations. Local nursing homes and their employees are expected to receive the vaccines in the upcoming days, followed by residents and staff of other long-term care facilities, EMS and non-frontline health care workers, medical examiners and coroners.

The state is still developing guidelines for who will be next in line to receive the vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance Sunday recommending that frontline essential workers and people ages 75 and over be next in line.

As of Monday, about 38,000 people had been vaccinated statewide, said Governor Andrew Cuomo in his Monday Covid-19 update. The first 346,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine began arriving in New York Monday, with an additional 120,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected later this week. The state had already received 170,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine last week, half of which will be reserved for the booster shot everyone who is vaccinated must receive about three weeks after the initial shot.

On the North Fork, the Emergency Department Chief at Stony Brook-Eastern Long Island Hospital, Dr. Lawrence Schiff, was the first person at the hospital to roll up his sleeve and take the vaccine Monday, Dec. 21.

“I’m extremely grateful to be part of the solution to this disease that has tragically impacted so many,” he said. “This vaccine allows me to continue safely caring for my patients, while better protecting my family, friends and community.”

“Vaccines will be administered according to criteria from the New York State Department of Health, which include a mix of physicians, residents, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners and other hospital staff,” according to the hospital. “The vaccine administration will be staggered in such a way as to ensure staff members have the ability to continue providing necessary patient care, and all hospital staff will be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

On Tuesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone unveiled a new partnership with Suffolk County Community College to host vaccine distribution at its three campuses, as part of an effort to vaccinate more than 850,000 county residents, about 75 percent of the county’s population, which would be necessary for the county to develop herd immunity.

“Our campuses are located in underserved communities, in Brentwood, Selden and Riverhead,” said Suffolk County Community College’s Interim President, Louis Petrizzo, at Mr. Bellone’s press conference outside the arena at the Brentwood campus. “We’re making them available in conjunction with the Department of Health for the inoculation program. When it’s your turn, take your shot. That is what each of us can do to help in the fight.”

Mr. Bellone also announced the launch of a social media campaign in conjunction with the effort, using the hashtag #takeyourshot.

Getting vaccinated is not only critical to protecting the health and safety of our communities, but is vital in our continued economic recovery, and keeping our businesses and schools open,” said Mr. Bellone. “Our goal is to vaccinate more than 850,000 County residents, and over the next 100 days we will work tirelessly to spread the word that this vaccine is safe, effective and will save lives.”

“I believe that all people need to take this vaccine,” said NAACP Long Island Regional Director Tracy Edwards at Mr. Bellone’s press conference. “I understand the skepticism and the history, but all of us, collectively, have been through a lot. We need to do our research on the vaccine and do what we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. The best way we will be able to do that is by taking our shot.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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