'Vaxmobile' visits Elmont Senior Center

Hempstead campaign focuses on booster shots


Over a dozen Elmont Senior Center residents received coronavirus vaccinations from the “Vaxmobile,” a mobile vaccination van launched by the Town of Hempstead earlier this year and staffed with a clinical unit from Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.

The Vaxmobile, which stops in communities across the Town of Hempstead five days a week, has visited Elmont Senior Center many times, but this visit was part of a new focus.

“Our focus is to concentrate on the booster shots and specifically for our elder population,” said Amber Vitale, a family nurse practitioner and director of Covid-19 community services at MSSN, referring to a third Covid-19 vaccination that has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for Americans over 65.

Vitale stressed that vaccinating older adults across Nassau County is challenging because of the transportation barriers and mobility issues that keep seniors from receiving shots.

“Being able to make vaccines so accessible for people is a huge thing that we’re doing,” Vitale said, adding that the Vaxmobile has helped the hospital to reach and vaccinate seniors. “We’ve been able to break down those barriers,” she noted.

“We’re right here in your backyard, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t get your booster,” Vitale said, describing the hospital’s message, urging seniors to receive a booster shot.

The hospital is now offering flu vaccines in addition to Covid-19 shots, as well as first doses and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

On Oct. 16, hospital employees administered 16 Covid-19 vaccinations and six flu vaccinations. Altogether, the Vaxmobile has vaccinated 7,800 people against the coronavirus and 126 people against the flu this year.

Damian Becker, MSSN’s public relations manager of public relations, emphasized that at this stage in the pandemic, the goal of the Vaxmobile campaign is to vaccinate as many people per day as possible.

“As long as we’re out there making the vaccine available, every day is a good day,” Becker said. “Whether it’s 50, 10, 30 people coming to the Vaxmobile to get their first dose, second dose, booster shot, it’s a successful day.”

Vitale stressed that reaching out to members of local communities is essential to increasing the vaccination rate across Long Island.

“I think it’s important to let community members know we care about our patients outside the four walls of our hospital,” Vitale said, adding that she has been involved with the hospital’s community outreach since the pandemic began.

“If we’re going to overcome this and return to normal, to the ways things were before the pandemic started, this is certainly part of the solution, and a very important part of the solution,” Becker said. “The more people who choose to get vaccinated, the better off for them, their families, their friends, their neighbors, and for them to get back to doing the things they love.”