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Long Islanders eligible for COVID-19 vaccine urged to be patient, persistent

Our health reporters answer Long Islanders' top questions

Our health reporters answer Long Islanders' top questions about COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution. Sign up for COVID-19 text alerts at newsday.com/text.

Stay patient and keep trying.

That was the message from Newsday health reporters David Reich-Hale and David Olson, who answered questions Tuesday from Long Islanders qualified to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but unable to secure an appointment.

"Just keep trying and hopefully you'll get lucky," Reich-Hale said during a Newsday-Live webinar moderated by Associate Editor Joye Brown. "But even in some cases when you get an appointment, if the expected number of doses don't come in, those appointments sometimes get canceled. So hang in there. That's the best recommendation."

More than 7 million New Yorkers are currently eligible to obtain the vaccine, including health care workers, first responders and residents 65 and older.

But with the federal government distributing only 300,000 doses each week to the state — that amount is reportedly going down to 250,000 doses next week — Long Islanders have been scrambling to get an elusive vaccine appointment.

Long Island's two mass vaccination sites, at Jones Beach and Stony Brook University, along with those run by the two counties and medical facilities, currently have no availability.

The problems were further exacerbated last week when 20,000 people who made appointments at Stony Brook using an unauthorized sign-up web link had their appointments canceled. The state Inspector General's Office is working to determine whether someone leaked the link before it went live or if the site was hacked, officials said.

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"If you get a link that's too good to be true there's probably a good chance it's not true," Reich-Hale said.

Another problem, Olson said, is that unlike in New York City, there is no one single clearinghouse website on Long Island that lists all vaccination sites.

But progress could be on the horizon with the expected approval in the coming months of vaccines by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. Also, drugstore chains CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, grocery store chain Stop & Shop, independent pharmacies and local physician's offices are expected to eventually get a supply of the vaccines.

The goal, Olson said, is to get 75%-90% of the population immunized to reach herd immunity.

"The quicker we get to herd immunity the more likely we can get back to some semblance of normalcy," he said.

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