The vaccine distribution center in the Student Union, with an interview from Interim Chief of Police Lawrence Zacarese. Stony Brook University administered Moderna vaccines to frontline workers on Dec. 29 and 30. Video by Alek Lewis. 

Stony Brook University started administering vaccines to workers prioritized by the New York State Department of Health’s first phase of vaccine distribution on Dec. 29 and 30.

People lined up at the university’s newly renovated Student Union over a two day period to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. Workers prioritized to receive the vaccine in phase one included clinical healthcare workers, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, firefighters, police officers, and staff members and residents in group homes.

Around 5,000 doses were received by the university to be administered by hospital staff and university medical students, according to Interim Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President for Campus Safety, Lawrence Zacarese.

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“Those folks who received notification for the downstate region chose Stony Brook, so they’ll be with us today or tomorrow,” Zacarese said on Dec. 29. “They make reservations and appointments in thirty minute intervals … it’s been working seamlessly throughout the day.”

Those who received the vaccine were asked to remain on the first floor of the union after their first dose in case they had an allergic reaction to the contents of the vaccine. 

“Out of an abundance of caution and just to make sure there are no untoward effects or side effects from the vaccine, we have an observation station for twenty minutes observed by emergency medical service providers,” Zacarese said. “Once they’ve waited their fifteen or twenty minutes they’re free to go about their day.” 

Those who received the vaccine were told by staff that they will receive an email to make an appointment for their second dose, which is set to be administered about 28 days later.

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Frontline healthcare workers received the first round of vaccinations earlier in December. The first to receive the Pfizer vaccine at Stony Brook University hospital was Dr. Kisa King, a resident in the hospital’s emergency department, on Dec. 15.

Although Zacerese said that the university does not currently have anything scheduled for more vaccine distribution, the Dean of the School of Medicine Kenneth Kaushansky said in early December that he has been pushing the state to make the university and hospital a vaccine distribution center on Long Island.

“We know that regionally, we are more than just the university and a hospital, we play a critical regional role,” Zacarese said. “So we are happy to continue to partner and do whatever we can to help roll out the vaccine to the various tiers [of workers] as they become eligible.”

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