Cuomo expands eligibility as Coliseum will become mass vaccination site

Robert Pelaez
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that the Nassau Coliseum will open as a mass vaccination site sometime this month. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that another 500,000 people statewide are eligible to receive coronavirus vaccinations.

Cuomo said the initial order of anyone at least 65 years of age being eligible to receive the vaccine would be lowered to 60 starting on Wednesday. Additionally, Cuomo announced that the thousands of vaccination sites throughout the state will be permitted to vaccinate any New Yorker who is eligible to receive the vaccine beginning on March 17.

“All sites to simplify the situation can vaccinate anyone who is eligible,” Cuomo said. “So, whether you’re going to county-run site, city-run site, what they call an FQHC, every site can vaccinate anyone who is eligible.”

On Saturday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that the Nassau Coliseum will be turned into a mass vaccination site later this month.  The announcement came after calls from the Nassau County Legislature to convert the venue into an inoculation center since January.

“We’re focused on continuing to ramp up our capacity for vaccination as more supply is anticipated to arrive in the coming weeks,” Curran said. “All of our residents must have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, and this iconic site will gives us the ability to deliver the vaccine rapidly.”

Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said he was pleased to hear the news regarding the Coliseum after calling on state officials and Curran to create a place where more Nassau residents can receive their doses.

“Long Island has constantly been referred to by the Governor as one of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates in the state,” Nicolello said on Facebook. “This site will allow more Nassau County residents to get the vaccine and begin to lower our positivity rate, and continue to economically recover from the pandemic.”
County officials did not provide a specific date when the Coliseum would begin conducting inoculations, but Curran said it will be “soon.” Once open, it will join Nassau Community College in Garden City and the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury as Nassau’s third mass vaccination center.

Cuomo noted that pharmacies throughout the state are still only being permitted to vaccinate people at least 60 years old and teachers. Cuomo said the reason is that it is more difficult for pharmacies to identify different types of workers that are eligible for the vaccine.

“They can identify age, because age you can identify by just a driver’s license,” Cuomo said. “And President Biden rightfully so has made teachers a priority. So, pharmacies will do 60 plus and teachers. We want to get those schools open.”

Cuomo also announced on Tuesday that public-facing government and public employees along with essential in-person and public-facing building employees will be eligible to receive the vaccine on March 17.  Examples of these employees include child service workers, DMV workers, county clerks, election workers and building service workers.

“These are the people who are the everyday heroes who are out there doing their job,” Cuomo said. “They’re putting themselves in a possible position of exposure. They are essential for us to continue operating.”

As of Wednesday, more than 176,000 Nassau County residents had completed their vaccine series, with 329,000 receiving at least one dose, according to state figures.  Throughout Long Island, more than 241,000 had completed their series, with more than 446,000 receiving at least one shot so far.

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