Herald Inside LI hosts virus and vaccine webinar


A little over a week ago, the pandemic hit its global year anniversary, and on March 19, Nassau County reached 400 thousand residents who have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson covid-19 vaccinations. 

Over six hundred thousand Nassau County residents are still remaining without having received any dose of covid-19 vaccine. For some, who have not yet received a vaccine, they have been left struggling to get a vaccination appointment or avoiding the vaccines out of fear.       

With no clear end in sight to the pandemic and many unanswered questions surrounding the virus and vaccines, Herald Inside LI held a free live informational webinar on Zoom for long islanders called, “The Virus and The Vaccine: One Year Later.” 

On March 18, starting at 6 p.m., the webinar, which was sponsored by Cona Elder Law and Mount Sinai South Nassau, featured guest panelists who discussed the past year and the near future of the virus and the vaccine on Long Island. Panelists also discussed information about infection rates, different variants, scheduling testing and vaccine appointments and continued plans to keep the communities safe. 

“We will continue to grapple with people who are hesitant about getting the covid-19 vaccine,” said the county executive of Nassau County, Laura Curran, who added that she plans to get a covid-19 vaccine next week publicly because she wants to show people that she trusts the efficacy of the covid-19 vaccinations. “We are working on doing outreach to let people know where the vaccine is available and how they can get an appointment because we want to make sure everyone has a shot at getting a shot.” 

The commissioner of health for Nassau County Department of Health, Dr. Larry Eisenstein, said that he believes there is reason to be optimistic about the progress of Nassau County residents who have been able to receive at least one dose of the covid-19 vaccines. However, he said getting the covid-19 vaccine should not stop people from practicing social distancing and wearing masks to protect those who have not yet been vaccinated. 

“There is a sense of liberation after someone is vaccinated because people who take any of the vaccines have a slim to none chance of ever getting the virus and the chances of dying of Covid is virtually zero,” Dr. Eisenstein said. “People who are vaccinated shouldn’t have the same restrictions as people who are not, but they should still be careful and precautious and wearing a mask should always be treated like how people treat carrying their cell phones. People will feel on edge without their phones and they should feel the same way about wearing a mask even after being vaccinated.”

Dr. Eisenstein said that President Joseph Biden 

mentioned that by May 1 anyone who wants a vaccination dose should be able to get one. However, Dr. Eisenstein said that he is predicting that it will take a bit longer for anyone who wants a vaccine to get one. He said he predicts by May 31, which is Memorial Day, everyone who wants a vaccination will be able to get one. 

“Now we are getting to a point where about ten thousand people in Nassau County are getting vaccinated every day,” he added. “I believe we can have practically everyone vaccinated by Memorial Day if we continue at that rate. We might be able to have a somewhat normal summer.” 

Dr. Eisenstein also said that he has noticed that  there are a lot of misconceptions about the vaccines and scheduling vaccination appointments. He said he has witnessed many patients that have been very picky about which covid-19 vaccine they want to receive and many have even tried to request for a specific vaccine, while others have scheduled appointments at more than one vaccination site in the hopes of getting the vaccine that they want. 

“We might not have the exact type of vaccine that people want when they want it. Take what you can get. All three of them are great at preventing death. So take what you can get,” Dr. Eisenstein said. “Make sure your second dose appointment is at the same place you got your first vaccination dose. This is because people at another place won’t have access to information about what your first dose was and they might not have the same type of vaccine that you need for your second dose at their location.” 

Also, according to Dr. Eisenstein, although the number of hospitalizations have gone down in the last few weeks and the number of people in intensive care units have dropped, he said that this might not be related to the distribution of the vaccines. He said the lower hospital case levels might be the result of having a younger healthier crowd currently testing positive for the virus. However, overall, he said it is too soon to tell exactly why the Covid-19 hospitalizations seem to be going down and people should still be precautious about spreading the virus. 

Many of the other panelists agreed with Dr. Eisenstein.

“All the vaccines are great. These are all phenomenal vaccines. There has not been one reported death after taking the vaccine, so people should jump to take the vaccine because they prevent death, not cause death,”  said the chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau, Dr. Aaron Glatt. “You shouldn’t think you are superman once you get vaccinated, but if you get the vaccine you are at a diminished risk of getting the virus and you diminish the chances of getting others sick.”

Also agreeing with the other panelists, Jennifer Cona, a partner of Cona Elder Law, said that she encourages anyone who meets the vaccination criteria to get vaccinated should get a shot. However, she said her office has heard that many seniors who meet the criteria to get vaccinated have not been able to get an appointment because they are not technically savvy and many of them have become frustrated with technology and gave up on trying to get an appointment. In order to help alleviate these issues, on March 1, Cona started a phone hotline--which allows seniors to call to receive guidance in scheduling vaccination appointments at vaccination sites. 

“So far, we have helped 135 seniors make appointments to get a vaccine and we hope to continue helping many others,” she said. “The past year has taught us that we are all vulnerable to a health care crisis. Be sure to take action to preserve and protect your loved ones and you’ll be ready to embrace and enjoy the summer and live your best life.”

Cona Elder Law offers free vaccine scheduling assistance for seniors. Metro New York residents aged 65 and older should call (631) 390-5000. Nassau County residents should call (516) 227-9590 for vaccine appointments. 

Contact insideli@liherald.com with any questions or concerns. To sponsor a webinar or for more information contact Amy Amato at aamato@richnerlive.com or call (516) 569-4000 EXT. 224.