Last Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health+Hospitals, and other city officials to oversee the vaccinations of two longtime health care workers.
As the Pfizer vaccine is distributed and the Moderna vaccine is expected to be approved by the FDA, the city will provide the vaccines to health care workers in public hospitals, particularly those assigned to emergency departments or intensive care units (ICUs) and over the age of sixty.
Over the next weeks and months, the hospital system will expand vaccinations to other employees and patients.
De Blasio, who called Elmhurst Hospital a “heroic place,” said there’s no more fitting place for some of the first vaccinations.
“One of the toughest battles anywhere in the U.S. against the coronavirus happened right here,” he said. “Elmhurst Hospital held the line.”
In the first 48 hours since the vaccine arrived, the mayor said, more than 1,600 health care workers were vaccinated in New York City. Both he and Chokshi said they expect the distribution of vaccines to pick up quickly, depending on the supply.
Katz said he expects to vaccinate everyone at Elmhurst Hospital, starting with the highest-risk units, in three weeks.
“This will be the last great battle against the coronavirus because the vaccine is here,” de Blasio said. “Let’s make this pandemic part of our past, let’s get rid of it once and for all.
“This is the place where so many people will get vaccinated,” he added. “This is the place where neighborhoods will turn and will trust to come get that vaccination.”
The two health care workers who received the first vaccinations were Veronica Delgado, 65, a lead physician’s assistant in the Emergency Department, and William Kelly, who is also over 60 and works as a service aide in the Environmental Services Department.
Delgado, who has a background in clinical and health care management, said she felt privileged to be the first in the hospital to get the vaccine.
“I know there are people that are more frontline and more deserving,” she said. “I hope that everybody can be vaccinated quickly.”
Kelly, who has worked at Elmhurst Hospital since 1997 and is a Queens native, said he felt good after taking the vaccine.
“I hope everybody takes the shot,” he said, “so we can all get back together.”