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At Nassau vaccination site, a focus on people who live, work in Elmont 

People lined up in the rain outside Elmont

People lined up in the rain outside Elmont Memorial High School on Saturday to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Newsday's Steve Langford has the story.  Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Teresa Beaubian had been trying unsuccessfully for weeks to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and was "relieved" to finally get one Saturday at Elmont Memorial High School, where she teaches social studies.

"We have to come in every day, and we are exposed every day," the Elmont resident said.

Beaubian was one of 1,000 people vaccinated at the school on Saturday, part of an effort to bring more vaccination sites closer to where Long Islanders live and work, especially to communities of color.

"We want to make sure we’re reaching everyone who is eligible, that everyone has an equal shot to get the shot," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said outside the school, as vaccinations were taking place inside the gym.

The county set up the site, and local elected officials and community leaders helped identify people who were eligible for vaccines. The focus was on people who live and work in Elmont — although some getting the vaccine said they lived or worked in nearby communities — which was chosen in part because of its racial and ethnic diversity, Curran said.

"We don’t want to leave any population in the county behind," she said.

Elmont is 47% Black, 22% Latino, 14% white and 13% Asian, according to 2019 U.S. Census estimates.

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Black and Latino Long Islanders are much less likely than whites and Asians to get vaccinated, compared with their share of the population eligible for vaccines, state data shows. Experts have attributed that in part to a distrust of the health care system born of current and past bias and abuse.

Curran said another pop-up vaccination site, in Glen Cove, will be announced soon, and the goal is to have one community-based site every week. About 26% of Glen Cove's population is Latino and about 8% is Black.

Beaubian, 59, said a number of teachers have gotten sick with the coronavirus.

"This will prevent us from dying or going into the hospital," Beaubian said.

Northwell Health employees administered the shots at 20 tables set up behind white curtains.

Cynthia Hamilton, 64, of Elmont, is a health aide at an assisted living center that offered the vaccine, but not when she could make it. She tried other sites but "everywhere I looked it was full."

She called the office of Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), who told her about Saturday’s event.

"At least now I can be with my family," Hamilton said. "I haven’t had a chance to see my sister since this whole COVID" pandemic began.

Her sister also is a health aide and has been vaccinated. The two plan to see each other next weekend.

"I’ll still wear my mask," she said. "I can’t hug her until after I get my second shot."

Jennifer Williams, 66, of Amityville, a security aide for the Sewanhaka Central High School District, said the vaccine will allow her to travel to Trinidad and Tobago this summer to visit her 94-year-old mother, who she hasn't seen for 32 years.

With the vaccine, "I feel like I have a security fence around me," she said.

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