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Long Island Lawmakers Demand Faster Vaccination Plan For Seniors

Lawmakers on Long Island want New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to find a fast work-around for seniors to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

New Yorkers 65 and over, first responders, teachers, and healthcare workers face a backlog of appointments until May.

Anna Foley is 83. She has cancer and multiple underlying conditions that make her vulnerable to the virus. Foley said she feels like the state has failed to keep her safe.

"I even told my children, I said if anything happens to me as far as of COVID, just bypass the stop and take me to the mortuary, because I don’t have a chance in hell to survive,” Foley said.

Republican State Senator Phil Boyle said the online system to schedule an appointment is unrealistic for seniors. He said the state call center is plagued with hour-long wait times and disconnects.

"Somebody dropped the ball from the top down. That sums it all up right there,” Boyle said.

Boyle said the eight vaccination sites in Suffolk County are understaffed. He wants every pharmacy and community health center to be able to vaccinate.

Cuomo's vaccination team has said they will allow state lawmakers and local governments into the planning process. Under state law, counties are required to have mass vaccination plans.

The state receives 300,000 doses every week that are distributed to mass vaccination centers. The lawmakers caution that hundreds of doses could expire before use.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.