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Town officials continue push for on-Island vaccinations

Shelter Island is prepared to schedule appointments and provide all logistical necessities needed to provide COVID-19 vaccines to residents, but what it lacks is the vaccine. That was the message Tuesday from town officials.

Police Chief Jim Read said school officials are prepared to schedule classes virtually so that the building could accommodate vaccinations. He said the town would handle scheduling of appointments and arrange for whatever number of professionals would be needed to administer the inoculations.

It can also provide a freezer or refrigeration unit for vaccines and any other requirements the federal, state or county officials might impose. Camp Quinipet has also offered space to administer vaccines,  Supervisor Gerry Siller said.

Both men said they has communicated information to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and New York State with their requests for-an Island inoculation program to accommodate the many seniors who would find it difficult to have to travel off Island.

Many Islanders have stepped forward with offers of money to lessen the burden on the town coffers.

Mr. Siller said he has reached out to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), state and county officials, area hospitals and Island doctors hoping that when vaccines become available again as expected next week, the Island’s need will be recognized.

Sara Mundy at the Senior Center has already compiled a list of 300 names of seniors on the Island who would like to get the inoculations. Ms. Mundy also has been encouraging Rite Aid pharmacists who regularly visit the Island to administer flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines on the Island. But, again, Rite Aid has its own list of communities that have requested pharmacists to administer the COVID vaccines when available.

The town is also trying to qualify Shelter Island Pharmacy to receive the vaccines.

“We have the resources,” Chief Read said. “We just need the vaccine,”

“We are pulling out all stops,” Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams said.

The school hasn’t had another case of COVID-19 since New Year’s Day and classes remain in the building. Rapid tests of some staff and students continued at the school Monday. All 37 people tested negative, according to Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D. He said that brings to 60 the total number of students and staff tested last week and this week and all have been negative. School nurse Mary Kanarvogel has conducted the rapid tests.

Some Island first responders and school staff members have been able to get vaccinated, but that was before the supply ran out.

Fire Commissioner Larry Lechmanski reported that he and other older members of the department want to see their younger members receive the vaccine first since they’re the ones most exposed to the public when handling emergencies.

Town officials have appealed to residents to remain vigilant about wearing masks in public and avoid gatherings with people outside their own households. Most people shopping at the IGA have been wearing masks and store officials believe they can handle the situation, Mr. Siller said. But he said he would ensure that the store staff gets whatever help they need, if requested.