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Vaccination site for vets opens at Nassau University Medical Center

County is providing vaccines to veterans

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Veterans who meet current eligibility requirements will need to look no further than Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow to get their Covid-19 vaccines.

Frank Zelinski, a 90-year-old Marine veteran from Hicksville, received his first dose at the new NUMC veteran vaccination site on March 11, after its official opening. The site was created as a partnership between NUMC and the Nassau County Veteran Service Agency. 

“My daughter made the arrangement,” Zelinski said after being inoculated. “I’m very happy that she did that for me. [All veterans] should come down here and get it.”

The vaccines are being provided by Nassau County, which receives its supply from the state. The new site had a soft launch last week, which went well, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

“Most of our veterans are far from the VA Hospital in Northport — that’s in another county,” Curran said. “So working together with NUMC to make the vaccine possible here makes it so much more accessible to many of them.”

Joining Curran in announcing the veterans’ vaccination site were Dr. Anthony Boutin, NUMC’s chief executive and medical officer, and Ralph Esposito, director of the Nassau County Veteran Service Agency. Members of the hospital’s health care staff were also there, and Curran thanked them for making NUMC “run,” whether there was a pandemic or not.

“Teaming up with the Curran administration,” Boutin said, “will expedite the process of delivering vaccinations to our veterans, a group of people who have given so much in the defense of our country.”

Nassau County is home to close to 50,000 veterans, and the site is expected to start off distributing 300 doses a week. In keeping with state guidelines, only eligible people, including those over age 60, select essential and health care workers and those who have underlying conditions, can receive the vaccine.

Veterans’ family members who meet eligibility requirements may receive vaccines with their loved ones.

“Believe me, this is Christmas in March for our veterans, and to me it means the world,” Esposito said. “I love that they’re doing it, and I love what our county is doing.”

NUMC has administered more than 25,000 doses of the vaccine thus far.

Zelinski said that getting his vaccine was simple. “This is great,” said his son-in-law, Michael Carley, of the hospital site. “Trying to get to Jones Beach and Javits, you have to make the appointment and it’s difficult.”

Pete Wenninger, the East Meadow American Legion commander, said the added benefit for veterans is that they can make an appointment by just making a phone call. “That phone number helped me and a lot of veterans,” he said. “It was a big help. I got my first shot [at NUMC].”

Richard DeJesu, of Oyster Bay, the commander of AMVETS North Shore Veterans Memorial Post 21, said he received his vaccine through Veterans Affairs, which also offers a simple process for making an appointment. Other members of his organization, along with his wife and granddaughter, have also been vaccinated.

Carley said it was a relief to have his father-in-law vaccinated. “[Now] when we get together with the family, if you go out to a restaurant, you don’t have to worry,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have been fully vaccinated can gather indoors, without masks, with other fully vaccinated people and unvaccinated people from a single-family household who are at a low risk for severe Covid-19.

“We know that the virus is still out there, and people are still getting sick with it,” Curran said. “So protecting our veterans from this deadly disease is the least we can do to thank those who valiantly protected our freedoms.”

The VSA will coordinate the registration for eligible veterans to receive their vaccines at NUMC. For more information, call the VSA at (516) 572-6565.