BY REYNA IWAMOTO | STAFF WRITER
As COVID-19 vaccinations expand across the globe, LIU Brooklyn recently joined its sister campus, LIU Post, in vaccinating faculty, staff, students and members of the community.
On Feb. 10, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran had announced that the LIU Post campus in Brookville would open as a new vaccination point of distribution (POD) for the county and would serve the surrounding community.
Dr. Denise Walsh, Dean of the LIU Post School of Health Professions and Nursing, had touted this partnership as “an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to give back to our community in which we reside.”
Then in March, the LIU Brooklyn campus announced that it would also offer to vaccinate any eligible faculty, staff and students — for two days only, on March 11 and 12.
“Long Island University is grateful to have partnered with Walgreens to distribute vaccines on the Brooklyn campus,” said LIU Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Schaefer. “Many Brooklyn students and faculty who meet the current qualifications have already been vaccinated.”
However, the decision for LIU Post to become a vaccination POD — while serving a greater good — has raised concerns among some students.
Melody Rose Cantanese, a junior at LIU Post, said she felt apprehensive to the increase in visitors to campus, given that LIU will now be open to non-students and faculty despite the strict COVID-19 policies.
“It is important for the vaccine to become more available and opening vaccine sites is a smart thing to do but I'm not fully comfortable with it at my school because I don't know who's coming on campus,” Cantanese said.
On behalf of LIU administration, Schaefer responded to these concerns, explaining that the building in which the vaccination site is located is approximately a quarter-mile away from the rest of the Post campus.
“The building was meticulously arranged following Nassau County Department of Health procedures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Schaefer said.
Senior Emily Shoup commutes between campuses for her classes, as she competes on the swim team in Brooklyn, but attends in-person classes for her major at the Post campus. Since starting in-person classes and traveling between Brooklyn and Brookville, Shoup said that her travel and possible increased exposure was a concern for her.
“Now with the campus becoming a vaccination site, I do feel that I need to be more careful when on the Post campus and when using public transportation in between campuses,” Shoup said.
In response to these concerns, Schaefer explained the various safety protocols across the campuses including, surveillance testing, daily wellness checks, mask wearing, social distancing, temperature checks, and avoiding social gatherings.
“I do still feel safe on the post campus, the campus is very strict about letting people on campus so I don’t doubt that who they let on will be people actually getting the vaccine,” Shoup said.
As Shoup is also an athlete at the Brooklyn campus, Shaefer gave reassurance that “athletes are tested even more frequently due to NCAA protocols, and their contact with others outside of competition is limited by mandates on fan attendance and travel protocols.”
Despite her concerns, Shoup said, “having the campus as a vaccination site is a very good opportunity for people in the area to have an easier time getting the vaccine.”
Sophomore Erin Hinch from the Post campus said that she feels this new vaccination site on campus will allow for students to have easier access to the vaccine.
“Once we are amongst the demographic that is allowed to get it, I feel LIU has made it accessible for students to get it.”
According to Schaefer, the vaccine POD is managed by the Nassau County Department of Health, but is staffed by students and faculty of LIU’s School of Health Professions and Nursing who have been trained to administer the vaccine.
In a press conference to announce the opening of the vaccination site, Curran said that this partnership between LIU and the health department will allow the county to utilize not just the space, but the skill of the students, the teachers, and the faculty to administer the doses.
“Opening new sites like this one here today at LIU is part of our mission to continue to build up our infrastructure so that when doses do come in larger numbers, when the supply does open up, we can deliver the vaccines as efficiently and safely as possible,” Curran said.
Dean Walsh called the vaccination site “an exceptional learning experience” for LIU students to learn about global humanitarian efforts and participate in caring for the surrounding community.
“We look forward to taking care of the community in Long Island,” Walsh said.
Schaefer said that this partnership was initiated by the Nassau County Department of Health and LIU was chosen as a vaccination site due to its “reputation as a national leader in educating health care professionals.”
“Our graduates have gone on to become highly respected members of the medical field in the metropolitan region and around the country. Many of our pharmacy and nursing students were involved in the pandemic relief efforts from the outset, and their willingness to continue volunteering their time to administer vaccines and bring their communities over the final hurdle is truly admirable,” Schaefer said.
In an article from the Long Island Press, LIU Post is one of three county-run vaccination sites to open in Nassau. The others are located at Nassau Community College and Yes We Can Community Center on Long Island
New York state is currently vaccinating Phase 1a and Phase 1b groups. This includes individuals over the age of 60, healthcare personnel, first responders, correction workers, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers, hotel workers, people with qualifying comorbidities, residents and staff at long term care facilities and congregate settings, restaurant workers and delivery workers, and for-hire vehicle drivers.
Since March 17, more essential workers are now eligible for vaccination, including public-facing government and public employees, not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need, and essential in person public-facing building service workers.