State and county officials hosted a "VaxtoSchool" pop-up vaccination event Friday — one of 20 across the state — at the Mastic Beach Fire House in an effort to increase COVID-19 inoculation rates among school-aged New Yorkers.
The event attracted both children and adults, including those looking to get their COVID boosters.
Alex Barresi, 17, of Shirley, a senior at William Floyd High School, said he was inspired to get the vaccine after his girlfriend contracted the virus. His sister, Jayden Barresi, 14, a freshman at William Floyd, also got her first shot at the event.
"I have some immunocompromised grandparents so if I can reduce the chance of me spreading it to them, I want to keep my family in the best health," said Alex Barresi, adding that many of the colleges he is considering next year are requiring the vaccination.
Steve Barresi said vaccinating his children was the smart move.
"It’s not prevention. It’s protection," he said,
Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott said it was important to increase vaccination rates among young people. Just over 60% of New Yorkers ages 12 to 15 have received at least one dose, according to State Health Department data.
"We know that they are less vaccinated than other segments of our population and they can also get … sick from COVID," said Pigott, noting that Mastic Beach and its surrounding communities has lower vaccination rates than other parts of Suffolk County. "So you may think you’re a teenager and young and healthy but you can also end up with some serious issues from this COVID virus."
Betty Jean Questel, 47, of Westhampton got vaccinated alongside her daughter, Alyssa Smith, 19, who had the virus back in August.
"I just want to be safer," Smith said. "I don’t want to get COVID again because it’s not fun to have."
Questel called the vaccine "a big relief" for her family.
"There’s lives being lost and it’s scary," she said.
Mastic resident Shatoya Smith, a certified nursing assistant who got her second shot Friday, said she was mandated to get the vaccine or risk losing her job.
"I was forced into this but I had no other choice," she said. "I don’t know how I would support my family without my job."
Robert Mohn and Harriet Fraser, both of Mastic Beach, came to get their COVID boosters.
"We needed it," Mohn said. "Better to be safe than sorry."