The Nassau County Legislative Majority today joined the growing number of public officials across New York State calling for the establishment of a vaccine pre-registration system to help ease the nightmarish sign-up conditions that hundreds of thousands of residents are currently experiencing. The lawmakers emphasized the importance a new registry would have, particularly for seniors who are among the most susceptible to the dangers posed by the deadly virus.
“The State’s vaccination program is failing and as more individuals become eligible, it’s creating an even bigger risk to our most vulnerable citizens,” said Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello. “With limited supplies and a mad scramble among millions of New Yorkers trying to obtain an appointment dealing with shifting rules, overloaded websites and interminable waits on the phone, the current system is simply not working and it’s time to make a change.”
The solution that’s gaining support from both sides of the political aisle is a universal pre-registration program, a method that is being utilized in other states such as New Jersey, Illinois, California and Florida that allows eligible applicants to fill out the necessary paperwork in advance and then get notified when an appointment is available.
“The phones in our office have been ringing constantly from frustrated residents complaining about the difficulties with making an appointment for the vaccine,” said Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford. “While the range of callers covers the gamut of age groups, the majority are from seniors who are having the most trouble navigating the system. I’ve written to our County Executive to emphasize the importance of advocating for the registry and focusing on getting more of our older population vaccinated and at a faster rate. Hopefully she will see the merits of acting quickly on both fronts.”
Nicolello, Ford and the Majority Delegation believe such a program should go even further and collect enough information in the database to identify and prioritize those most at risk, like seniors for example, so that they can get a speedy appointment as doses arrive. They also recommended that more sites be established in Nassau County to treat our older population, including the creation of additional mobile units that can visit senior centers or other locations where seniors reside or can easily travel to.
While the numbers continue to improve, Long Island’s COVID-19 positivity rate remains among the highest in the state. Demographically, Nassau County has a higher percentage of seniors than in most regions statewide and throughout the country as well.
To further improve the vaccine distribution process, Nassau Legislators recently asked the state to open a mass vaccination site at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum similar to the sites at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field where thousands are being vaccinated daily.
“The Nassau Coliseum is an ideal location with easy access and plenty of space and parking to accommodate staffing and provide the necessary social distancing protocols,” Nicolello said. “Now, is the perfect time to get this location prepared so as the supply of doses increases we are ready to vaccinate larger numbers of individuals. So far our outreach to the governor has fallen on deaf ears but we haven’t given up and will continue our efforts to bring this to fruition along with the vaccine registry and increased vaccine availability for our seniors.”