The line at the New York State COVID-19 vaccination site in Jones Beach in Nassau County last month. Courtesy photo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

East End officials are asking the governor and county executive to make sure the vaccination distribution program treats residents of the five East End towns fairly.

“The vaccine distribution system on the East End, with the new, expanded eligibility categories, is virtually non-existent,” the officials wrote in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and County Executive Steve Bellone. The Jan. 14 letter was signed by state lawmakers, town supervisors and village mayors. It went out on the letterhead of Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

“We have been inundated with complaints from frustrated constituents about vaccine distribution and the lack of East End locations,” the officials wrote.

“Our residents, particularly senior citizens, cannot be expected to drive an hour or more to places such as Brentwood, Jones Beach, or Stony Brook to get the vaccine,” they wrote.

“While we have submitted many locations in our communities for consideration for the distribution of the vaccine, those suggestions have been ignored.”

The officials said they recognize there is not enough vaccine currently available to meet demand, but “when that a vaccine becomes available, the East End must get its fair share.”

They said they’ve asked the state and county officials to work with them to establish a network of distribution sites across the East End.

The letter was signed by Assembly members Thiele and Jodi Giglio, State Senator Anthony Palumbo, Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Shelter Island Supervisor Gerard Siller, East Hampton Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and the mayors of nine East End villages.

The process is “too slow and too chaotic,” Russell said.

A county spokesperson said tonight the county has actionable plans and the infrastructure in place to administer vaccines across the county, including on the East End, where a distribution site will be activated at theSuffolk County Community College Eastern Campus.

“We simply need vaccines to be able to get them into arms,” the spokesperson said.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.