Lindenhurst, NY: At the start of 2021, Legislator Kevin McCaffrey was once again named Minority Leader, taking helm of the Legislature's Republican Caucus. This comes amidst new hope throughout the County and New York State with the release of the COVID-19 vaccine. With this new hope comes tremendous confusion, due in most part to the lack of information being provided to the County regarding vaccine distribution.
Over the first weekend of 2021, the Republican Caucus issued a call to the Governor and the County Executive, demanding that they provide more information on plans for vaccinating the residents of Suffolk County. Legislators and residents alike have been left with many more questions than answers regarding the rollout of the vaccine- from the process, to the supply, and even the infrastructure. As such, our ability to serve our residents is severely limited, as is our ability to inform them of these immensely important public health updates as the pandemic continues.
While our counterparts in Nassau County continue to announce the openings of more and more vaccine distribution sites, residents in Suffolk County are being told to wait for a website to open up and speculate where and when they might be able to make an appointment. Legislator McCaffrey said “I can’t imagine expecting these older seniors vying for an online appointments on Monday as if they were younger people buying concert tickets on Ticketmaster. This is unacceptable especially to our most vulnerable population, our senior citizens, who deserve better."
The decisionmakers at the State level continue their claims of following the science, yet our seniors make up more than 60% of COVID related hospitalizations and are left in the dark. Other places across the nation and the globe have named seniors a priority, like Israel, where 72% of seniors age 60 and above have been vaccinated already. It is the most vulnerable persons who have the least amount of access to technology, of which the distribution plan is dangerously dependent. On the issue, Legislator Leslie Kennedy stated “County Government must protect the health, safety and well-being of residents. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will do just that. Announce today a plan for our seniors to be vaccinated in every Town in Suffolk County!”
Each and every Town Supervisor in Suffolk County has volunteered to open up facilities to serve as vaccine distribution sites and assist in the communication to seniors. To date, these offers of assistance have received no response. Legislator Rob Trotta added “County Executive Bellone has managed to put Suffolk County number 62 out of 62, dead last for fiscal stability. It appears he’s trying to match that record with distributing the COVID vaccine. This is totally unacceptable.”
After a slow rollout by the State now is the time for all levels of Government to work cooperatively to insure the people who need information and access to vaccine distribution receive it.
Legislator McCaffrey represents Suffolk County’s 14th Legislative District, which encompasses the Village of Lindenhurst, Babylon Village, the hamlets of West Babylon and North Lindenhurst, portions of Copiague, North Babylon and Babylon’s barrier beach communities.