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Limited vaccine reaches Peconic Landing: Islanders were hoping to be inoculated there

Supervisor Gerry Siller got a call Tuesday from Dr. Josh Potter of the Medical Center that a limited number of doses of COVID-19 vaccine were to be made available at Greenport’s Peconic Landing this week.

Dr. Potter also called Senior Services Director Laurie Fanelli to let her know that a list being compiled of those Island seniors unable to travel to get inoculated might be able to get appointments.

But if an appointment hasn’t been made, it’s too late, Mr. Siller said. Nonetheless, any senior not already on the Senior Center’s list should be sure to sign up there.

Mr. Siller, Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams and Police Chief Jim Read continue to lobby officials at all levels to try to get an on-Island site for inoculations when the next flow of vaccine becomes available.

Mr. Siller said he wrote a letter this week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and copied other elected officials and Suffolk County Department of Health Services staff, to again make the case that on-Island inoculations are vital and the town is prepared to staff and handle the situation.

He noted that Shelter Island School was prepared for inoculations to be administered there and that EMS workers and medical personnel on the Island are willing to administer the doses. In the event that anyone receiving the vaccine has a bad reaction, the Island’s EMS crew would be available to assist with problems and, if necessary, get them to a hospital. All they need is the vaccine.

Islanders — especially the elderly — are “nervous, anxious and angry” that they can’t get inoculated, Mr. Siller said. In a normal year, there would be about 38% of the Island’s year-round population who are seniors, many too frail to travel and certainly unable to go long distance for the vaccine. Since the COVID pandemic, which has increased the Island’s overall population, the supervisor said he thinks the senior population represents more than 50%.

Councilman Jim Colligan noted that some people may think because the Town Board discusses other issues that members aren’t paying attention to the pandemic; Islanders’ need for vaccinations is the number one priority, he said.

As of Wednesday morning, Suffolk County Heath Services confirmed that there were 41 Islanders who had contracted COVID-19. But Chief Read said last week he believed there are more than 50 cases since the pandemic hit almost a year ago. The discrepancy in numbers is because some people who are on the Island reported their off-Island addresses to the Health Department.