Newsday – Pharmacists, urgent care centers say they’re ready — when vaccine arrives

Updated January 9, 2021 9:02 PM

Pharmacists, urgent care centers and other health providers across Long Island said they are prepared to help ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations — once they get the needed doses.

Long Island health care providers are working with state officials, as well as Nassau and Suffolk officials, to reach as many people as possible once vaccines are available to larger swaths of the public. The state has identified thousands of potential vaccination sites with the help of local communities, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spokesman Colin Brennan wrote in an email Thursday.

“It’s important that the pods aren’t only in Garden City, Mineola and New Hyde Park, but are also in Uniondale, Freeport and New Cassel. There has to be equity in all of this.”

FQHCs could be key

Federally qualified health centers in Nassau and Suffolk could play key roles in making sure the vaccine gets to underserved populations. The centers provide care for low-income, underinsured and uninsured residents, as well as patients with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance.

Long Island FQHC is setting up to give COVID-19 vaccines at its facilities in Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Oceanside, Roosevelt and Westbury, president and chief executive David Nemiroff said. They plan to start at 600 vaccinations a week in total at all their locations and increase from there.

Nemiroff said the facilities typically give out 14,000 to 20,000 vaccines a year, including for flu and childhood inoculations.

“The challenge for us will be scheduling because sometimes people cancel,” he said. “We are probably going to get the Moderna vaccine, which has 10 doses per vial, and it’s only good for five hours after you open it.”

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