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Large vaccination centers on LI see drop in number of people seeking shots

Cars line up at Jones Beach State Park

Cars line up at Jones Beach State Park for the COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 21. Credit: James Carbone

The number of COVID-19 cases in New York remained low Sunday as officials continue to encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get their shots as soon as possible.

But some of the largest vaccination centers on Long Island run by the state have seen steep decreases in the number of people seeking vaccinations.

On April 12, more than 2,100 people received a vaccine dose at Jones Beach State Park, according to statistics from the state Health Department. Last Thursday, just 363 shots were given at that location.

The Stony Brook vaccination site administered over 1,700 shots on May 17 but just 387 one month later.

Boosting the lagging momentum on vaccinations is especially important to ward off COVID-19 variants that are becoming dominant in the United States, according to health experts.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN on Friday that the Delta variant of COVID-19 could take over as the most dominant strain in the nation.

Walensky said the Delta variant — which the CDC says was first identified in India — is more easily transmitted than the Alpha variant, also known as the U.K. variant.

With large state sites scheduled to close this week in Queens and upstate, smaller vaccination centers are expected to be focused on areas where the rates are lowest.

"Every shot in the arm brings us a step closer to defeating COVID once and for all and that's why it's so critical for everyone to get vaccinated," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement released Sunday. "There are no more excuses, so if you haven't gotten your shot yet, please do the responsible thing and get yours today."

There were just 258 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New York on Saturday including 15 in Nassau County and 25 in Suffolk County.

The daily rate of new positive cases was 0.29%, the lowest since the pandemic started, Cuomo said.

So far, over 11 million people in New York have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and over 10 million have completed their vaccine series.

Now that more than 70% of people over the age of 18 have received at least one dose in New York, most pandemic restrictions have been lifted in the state.

Health experts said a higher percentage is needed to establish "herd immunity."

Cuomo has not said whether any of the state sites on Long Island are slated to close but vaccination numbers at all of them are on a downtrend.

The site at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood administered 1,549 shots on April 17, 909 on May 17 and 242 on June 17, according to state figures.

The Stony Brook Southampton vaccination center administered over 1,000 shots on April 17, over 600 on May 17 and 121 on June 17.

At SUNY Old Westbury, just 201 shots were given out on June 17, compared with 1,177 on April 17 and 1,073 on May 17.

With David Olson

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