Hope arrives in Riverhead as 1,000 doses of vaccine to be distributed over four days at senior center

Riverhead Town’s first COVID-19 vaccination site opened Friday morning at the town Senior Center on Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue. 

“Finally today, after much advocacy to designate the Riverhead Senior Center a vaccination site, it came to fruition,” said Supervisor Yvette Aguiar at a brief press conference outside the senior center Friday.

“We are issuing 1,000 vaccines over the course of four days,” she said. “We will have 250 every day for four days: Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.”

Town residents who are age 65 or older are eligible for the vaccine. The town has already set up a pre-registration for the vaccine, and appointments are required. 

The pre-registration can be done through the town’s website or by phone, she said. The phone number is 631-727-3200, ext. 653.

“People have gone online and registered and now we are contacting them to establish the time frames, over the next few days,” said Councilman Ken Rothwell. 

“As soon as we get an additional distribution of vaccinations, we will use that pre-registration on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the individuals will receive an appointment,” Ms. Aguiar said. 

She added: “We want to thank the state for hearing our call here in Riverhead. This is an initial dispersion of vaccines and we are hoping to continue administering vaccines here at the Riverhead senior center.”

The senior center had been certified by New York State on Wednesday night, she said. Southold Town on Thursday began distributing 1,000 doses at its recreation center in Peconic. Suffolk County has been running a vaccine site at the Suffolk County Community College campus in Riverside.

Ms. Aguiar said she hopes to get more vaccines over the next week or two and have a larger distribution of the vaccine. 

The vaccine is being administrated by employees from Sun River Health, which has nine locations throughout Suffolk County, including the County Center in Riverside, according to Alberto Sandoval, the director of environmental and support services for Sun River Health.  

He said they saw 643 people last Monday and Tuesday at their Patchogue site.

Ms. Aguiar said the Moderna vaccine is being distributed at the senior center. There are currently three vaccines approved. She said it’s up to the state to decide which vaccine is used. She said she received the Moderna vaccine herself, as did the first responders in the town. 

There are reserved doses for people who received the vaccine on Friday. They were given an appointment to return 28 days later for the second vaccine shot.

Setting up a vaccination location in town wasn’t easy, Ms. Aguiar said. 

“It took about 30 letters and phone calls from my office, as well as advocating at meetings, comparing surrounding areas that were getting vaccinations,” she said. “For instance, why does Hampton Bays have a pop-up site when we have one of the highest senior populations in Suffolk County? Riverhead should be on the front line.”

The Suffolk County Department of Health website provides links to various avenues to receive the vaccine, including pharmacies, Northwell Health and county-run locations.

Just over 16% of New York’s population has currently received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the New York State Department of Health. The latest figure for Suffolk County is 15.8%, which is just over 234,000 people.