Both Nassau and Suffolk counties are rolling out new initiatives aimed at getting Long Island’s younger population to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccination rates are declining statewide, and New York’s young population has the lowest number of people vaccinated compared to older New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.
“We’re seeing the numbers slow on vaccinations, despite the fact that it is now easier to get vaccinated,” he said on Wednesday.
With a decrease in demand for the vaccine and increase in supply comes opportunities for local officials to target young people who have been less readily showing up to get their shots.
In Nassau, County Executive Laura Curran announced on Wednesday that Nassau Community College will host high school student vaccination days from May 13 to 16. On these days, a pop-up vaccination site in the college’s gymnasium will focus on vaccinating high school students, who can make their appointments at nassaucountyny.gov/vaccine.
“Up to now, we’ve really been focused on vaccinating the most vulnerable,” Curran said, noting that in Nassau County, 83 percent of residents 65 and older have been vaccinated. “Focusing on seniors is great, and we’re going to keep doing that … but now we really have the luxury of putting our focus on the young people. We want to make sure we’re getting our kids vaccinated, as well.”
All students 16 and older are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and those 16 and 17 years old will need parent or guardian consent. The 4-day initiative at the community college aims to administer doses to 500 students per day for a total of 2,000 doses given.
The program has also enlisted high schoolers and college students to serve as youth ambassadors for getting the shot. They will be trained by Dr. Larry Eisenstein, the county’s health commissioner, to promote getting vaccinated and answer questions about the vaccine from their peers.
“Getting a Covid-19 vaccine is about community care, it’s about helping everybody else out, but it’s also about self-care,” said 18-year-old Nicolette Carrion, one of the youth ambassadors. “We really have to recognize that this is what we have to do to move forward. We have a solution, so we have to trust the facts.”
Suffolk County is targeting the 21-plus population with incentives from East End wineries and breweries. As part of the county’s “Lift Your Spirits, Take Your Shot” campaign, throughout the month of May, anyone who receives a Covid-19 shot at one of the county-run vaccination sites will receive a voucher for a free alcoholic beverage at one of eight participating locations:
Del Vino Vineyards, Northport
Peconic County Brewing, Riverhead
Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Greenport
Spider Bite Beer Co., Holbrook
Montauk Brewing Company, Montauk
Twin Forks Beer Company, Riverhead
Long Island Spirits, Baiting Hollow
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the initiative on Wednesday at Raphael vineyard and winery in Peconic, which is also a vaccination site.
“If we’re going to reach our vaccination goals, we need to get more young people vaccinated,” he said. “And I can’t think of a better way for some of our young people than to come out here, enjoy some of our wineries, our vineyards, our breweries, and while they’re there, get your shot, and that’s what this campaign is about.”
The county’s vaccination sites at the Suffolk County Community College campuses in Riverhead, Selden, and Brentwood now allow walk-ins, so residents do not need an appointment to get their vaccine and their beverage voucher. For more information, visit suffolkcountyny.gov/vaccine.
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