David Pitti, a Nassau County facilities and plumbing employee for 32 years, received his first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the county legislative building on Aug. 5. He was the first employee to be vaccinated as part of the county’s new vaccination program.
County Legislator Tom McKevitt, a Republican from East Meadow, said vaccinating as many people as possible is the way to end the pandemic. “You just want to go and try new areas around the county, as central as possible. That way we can make it convenient,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can.”
The program aims to vaccinate more county employees and their families by offering the vaccine at county buildings. “While many of our employees are vaccinated,” said County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat from Baldwin, “we want to make it even easier for those who have not been vaccinated.”
At first, Pitti said, he didn’t know what to expect and hesitated to get the vaccine. After seeing the hospitalization rate shoot up, he changed his mind.
“Now feels like the right time to do it,” he said, “for the safety of myself and for the safety of others.”
While Pitti received his first vaccine dose at a room on the second floor of the legislative building, two other county workers waited their turns. The room, transformed into a clinic, had individual pods that were divided with privacy shields for employees to receive their doses.
Curran said she moved forward with the idea after seeing Covid-19 cases rise with the emerging delta variant.
“The delta variant of the coronavirus is much more contagious, and we are seeing an uptick in cases, and we’re also seeing some breakthrough cases, folks who are fully vaccinated who get the delta variant,” Curran said. “But I just can’t say this enough: If you are fully vaccinated, the chances of you contracting the virus are much smaller, and more importantly, it will keep you from dying.”
Vaccine clinics are at police precincts, the Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Works, the Fire Marshal’s Office, the Department of Social Services and Public Safety.
Curran said 1,000 professionals, including members of the department of health and medical reserve volunteers, would administer shots of either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Nassau is leading the state with 83.1 percent of adults over 18 who have received at least the first dose, Curran said. “So, 83.1 percent is great,” Curran said. “We want 100 percent of folks who work for our county vaccinated.”
To encourage employees to be vaccinated, they and their families who receive their second doses will be entered into a $200 raffle, sponsored by Stew Leonard’s. There will be six winners, one for each vaccine clinic location. County workers are also eligible for up to four hours of paid leave during the workday to be vaccinated, Curran said.
McKevitt said he is interested to see how successful the program will be, particularly with the $200 incentive for shots. “A lot of people who I speak to are not getting the shots. I’m not sure that this is going to sway them one way or the other,” he said. “They seem very dug in on, you know, their business not getting the vaccine. So, I’m very curious to see as to what kind of motivating factor it is, if it really works.”
Breaking down the statistics to show the difference in cases and hospitalizations between the unvaccinated and vaccinated could help persuade unvaccinated people to get their shots, he said.
If there is a high demand for vaccinations, Curran said the program would be expanded.
It follows an initiative she announced on Aug. 3 to vaccinate employees and their families at local businesses. Since then, Curran said the county has received dozens of inquiries from businesses about setting up vaccinations on site.
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