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COVID Vaccine: Eligible Long Island Residents Running Into All Kinds Of Problems Registering For Shots

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Getting a vaccine appointment is a difficult process, as millions of people are clamoring for just thousands of COVID-19 daily doses.

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff has more on the chaos at the computer screen.

Count Mark Winairski of Great Neck among the frustrated.

The New York State vaccine appointment phone line is perpetually busy. Its website to book appointments is maddening.

"The process is really elder unfriendly. It's elder hostile, really, and I can't believe that the state tested any of this stuff," Winairski said.

"Kicked off the site at every turn. Kept hitting refresh, got kicked off, got back on the site," vaccine website user Rhonda Vitoulis added.

COVID VACCINE: New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX | New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC | New Jersey book online here | Connecticut book online here | Nassau County more info here |Suffolk County more info here | Westchester County more info here

Vitoulis efforted a vaccine for her elderly mother and was directed to a local drug store.

"He doesn't have the vaccination," Vitoulis said.

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Frustrations boiled over in an overwhelmed system that's about to get busier. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced that Centers for Disease Control guidance allowing millions more to get inoculated will now make people 65 and over and immunocompromised eligible.

"At the end of the day, you only have 300,000 dosages for a population of 7 million. We need patience at an impatient time in history," Cuomo said.

MORECOVID In New York: NYC Pledges To Focus On Communities Hardest Hit By Virus, Educate Residents About Vaccine As Eligibility Widens

The 300,000 doses allocated by the federal government per week leave counties like Nassau with only around 1,000 per day and unable to book appointments more than one day in advance.

"As soon as we have vaccine or even confirmation of vaccine, we are making those appointments available. People should check back every so often," Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Larry Eisenstein said.


County Executive Laura Curran said said Nassau's website is directly linked to the state's.

"The demand is outpacing supply at the moment. But continue to visit. Just keep refreshing the site," Curran said.

Critics say the booking system was clearly not ready for prime time.

"The websites are crashing. They had weeks, if not months, to prepare for this. There is really no excuse for it. We are all hoping it will get better, but at this point it has been terrible," County Legislator Richard Nicollelo said.

Northwelll Health, which has several vaccine sites, said it will soon improve.

"I anticipate that as increased dosing becomes available to Northwell and our partners in the community, we will be able to give more advance notice and open more opportunities for people to receive their second vaccine," Dr. Matthew Harris said.

In the meantime, it's a matter of patience and persistence. Additional appointments are released at various times throughout the day.

For help navigating the Northwell Health appointment system, you can call 844-919-8222.

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff contributed to this report


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