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Stony Brook University vaccination site run by state opens Monday

Gov Andrew M. Cuomo has repeatedly raised concerns

Gov Andrew M. Cuomo has repeatedly raised concerns about the supply of vaccines arriving in the state. Credit: Raychel Brightman

A mass vaccination site at Stony Brook University is slated to open on Monday but only some who signed up for appointments will get the COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Sunday.

Roughly 20,000 people who made appointments using an unauthorized sign-up web link that was improperly circulated last week found out they were later canceled.

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department said those who went through the official state portal to get to the link to register at Stony Brook — once the link went live Friday — have appointments.

"People who booked through our website here: https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ after the link for this site went live on Friday 1/15 or scheduled through our hotline at 1-833-697-4829 have valid appointments for the site, which opens tomorrow," said Jill Montag, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

The state Inspector General's Office is investigating the matter and to determine whether someone leaked the link before it went live or if the site was hacked, Melissa DeRosa, a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said last week.

As more New Yorkers became eligible to get the vaccine last week under new federal and state guidelines, finding an appointment was a frustrating exercise for many people. The state’s phone line and website were jammed, local pharmacies were inundated with requests and available appointments evaporated quickly.

"With the federal government essentially opening the floodgates of eligibility, more than 7 million New Yorkers are now able to receive the vaccine," Cuomo said in a statement. "That sounds nice, but when they did that, they not only failed to increase supply, they actually sent us less than we were expecting."

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GETTING COVID-19 VACCINES

Who qualifies for COVID-19 shots?

New York State expanded the list of qualifying residents to encompass people 65 years of age and older as well as others with underlying conditions that put them at higher risk. The state had previously expanded its vaccination program to include essential workers and people 75 years of age and older in addition to health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, among others. The supply of vaccines is limited even as more groups are added. Hospitals will continue to prioritize unvaccinated members of the first phase, focusing largely on health care workers. The following are the qualifying categories, as revised on Feb. 9.

Group in Phase 1A

The state said about 2.1 million state residents belong in this group, including:

  • Health care workers at hospitals who interact with patients.
  • Residents and staff at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • Dentists, psychologists and others deemed health care workers with direct contact with patients.
  • Employees of Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • EMT volunteers and staff.
  • Coroners, medical examiners, some funeral workers.
  • Staff and residents of state facilities for people with developmental disabilities, mental health care and addiction services.
  • Employees at urgent care centers.
  • Individuals administering COVID-19 vaccines, including local health department staff.
  • Staff at ambulatory centers.
  • Home care and hospice workers.
  • Residents and staff at other congregate care facilities.

Group in Phase 1B

The state estimated about 3.2 million residents belong in this group, including:

  • People 75 years of age and older.
  • Teachers and education workers, including in-person college instructors, substitute teachers, student teachers, school administrators, paraprofessional staff, support staff, contractors in schools and bus drivers.
  • First responders, including police; firefighters; state police; sheriff’s offices; county, town and village police departments, and other law enforcement offices.
  • Public safety workers, including dispatchers and technicians.
  • Public transit workers, including airport, railroad, subway, bus, ferry and Port Authority employees.
  • Corrections officers.
  • Other sworn and civilian personnel, such as court and peace officers.
  • Grocery store workers dealing with the public.
  • Individuals living in homeless shelters.

Following federal recommendations:

Added at the discretion of local governments:

  • Taxi drivers.
  • Restaurant workers.
  • Residents of facilities for developmentally disabled people.

SOURCE: New York State, Northwell Health.

Some Long Islanders were dismayed to check the state's website and see while there were no appointments available at the state's large vaccination sites on Long Island and in New York City — Jones Beach, the Javits Center or Aqueduct Racetrack — there were openings at several upstate locations such as SUNY Albany and SUNY Binghamton.

"If (appointments) upstate are not being booked, the state’s allocation for this week should be directed to Long Island, NYC and Westchester," said Irene D'Antonio of Port Washington, who is trying to book an appointment for her 73-year-old father and 71-year-old mother.

In an email to Newsday, D'Antonio said the "state needs to show New Yorkers that they are using common sense and not just blaming the Federal government for distribution errors."

Jack Sterne, a spokesman for the Cuomo administration, said "vaccine doses are allocated to state-run sites based on the eligible population in that region and we carefully monitor usage at all sites — so if one has extra inventory and another has demand, we can re-allocate doses."

"That said, New Yorkers should recognize that downstate sites opened before those upstate, so it is only logical the downstate sites would be booked up first, and due to low supply from the Trump administration, we anticipate all state-run sites will be fully booked this week," he said.

Cuomo announced a new case of the fast-moving COVID-19 U.K. variant in New York, bringing the total number to 18. There have been nearly a half-dozen cases on Long Island.

The latest case was discovered in Westchester County but no other information was immediately available.

There are 13,842 new cases of COVID-19 based on 246,507 test results reported to the state on Saturday, including 1,309 in Nassau County and 1,541 in Suffolk County, according to figures released by Cuomo.

A total of 8,771 people were hospitalized across the state and 172 people died due to COVID-19 on Saturday, according to state statistics. Eleven of the fatalities were in Nassau County and 17 in Suffolk County.

The state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker shows New York’s health care distribution sites had distributed 70% of all doses as of noon on Sunday.

On Long Island, 111,725 vaccines had been administered of 144,750 doses received. These figures do not include vaccinations at nursing homes, which are handled by the federal government.

"The Nassau County Department of Health has been busy getting shots into arms as quickly as they arrive, and I will keep pushing for more vaccines until every resident who wants a vaccine is able to get it," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. "As Long Islanders continue to wait for supply chains to ramp up, we must double down on social distancing and remember to limit gatherings and wear masks. With an end to this pandemic finally within reach, now is not the time to let down our guard."

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