Guest Spot: Receiving the coveted COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t come down to luck

For us I am an 81-year-old retired nurse practitioner/psychologist, married to a 93-year-old retired urologist.

We live in an over 55-community in Riverhead and were anxious to get signed up to be vaccinated. I registered online on every site I could find, but never got a response other than confirmation that we were eligible.

I called every phone number I found only to be told by a recording “we are not accepting appointments for vaccinations.” One evening I waited for two hours and 23 minutes on the published phone line for appointments, only to be cut off in the end.  

On the morning of Jan. 20, a friend called and said “I just got an appointment for me and my husband to get the vaccine! Go to the Riverhead Health Center right now.”

After I figured out where Sun River Health was, I called two friends and we went there immediately. Not only did I get appointments for us for the following week, but I was able to make appointments for three friends. When I returned home I called everyone I could think of in my community that would know my name and answer my phone call and told them where to go to get an appointment. They in turn called other neighbors. About 40 or so people from my community got there that day and got appointments.

Two of my friends were vaccinated the next morning in Greenport. My other friend who unfortunately is an amputee with one leg, a veteran, in his late 80s, was given an appointment the following week , also in Greenport. When he arrived that next week, he was told “we are not giving shots here, you have to go to Riverhead.” Thankfully he was able to get there and be vaccinated. We also got vaccinated that day, a week later. Today most of my neighbors were called and their appointments for this week were canceled due to lack of vaccine.

My concerns are the following: Why was this only word of mouth? We were vaccinated purely by luck! Is there a plan to reschedule those canceled appointments? How will they be rescheduled? Where are vaccines being given on the North Fork? I know of people who were given vaccine at the Peconic Bay Medical Center Satellite on Second Street in Riverhead. Who knew they were a site? Appointments were made for Southhampton Hospital. Was this information ever published anywhere? Shortages of vaccine are understandable, but the lack of communication for a community of many vulnerable constituents is appalling!

This is local government planning and action at its worst! How and when is valid information going to get to the people that need it? Who on the North Fork will speak to these problem? Someone please help!

We’re hoping our appointment for the second dose will be honored.

The author lives in Riverhead.

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