Hochul: ‘I'm here to tell you that I have 100% confidence in the safety and the effectiveness of every one of the three vaccines available. I believe this to the extent that I'm here today to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to demonstrate my confidence in, my belief that this is safe, and I encourage everyone to take whichever vaccine becomes available to you first, whether it's Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. It will be transformative.’
Almost exactly a year to the day since the coronavirus global pandemic was declared, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul marked the solemn occasion in downtown Buffalo at Catholic Health’s Associate Regional Training Center by thanking health care workers for their “courage” and received a dose of the life-saving vaccine.
The single dose of the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine means Hochul joins more than 2 million New Yorkers who have completed their vaccine regiment, inoculating them from a virus that has killed more than 500,000 Americans since last March.
The dose was administered by nurse Mary Miller of Catholic Health, one of the entities that make up the Vaccinate Western New York Hub along with ECMC and UB Jacobs School of Medicine and is led by Hochul. Vaccinate WNY (VaxWNY) is working to safely, efficiently and equitably vaccinate the community against the COVID-19 virus and help end this public health crisis, Hochul said. Speaking directly to Miller and the thousands of other frontline workers who have helped guide the region through the pandemic, Hochul offered her gratitude for their work.
“I cannot imagine the consequences if people like Mary and thousands of others didn’t have the courage to show up and, just like a firefighter, run into a burning building,” Hochul said.
By receiving her Johnson & Johnson vaccine dose publicly, Hochul said she wanted to demonstrate her “confidence” in the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, and spoke about the persistent skepticism, particularly among communities of color, to receiving a dose.
“I’m aware in certain communities there’s been a hesitation about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I’m here to tell you I have confidence. I’m here today to demonstrate my confidence and take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Hochul said.
The lieutenant governor became vaccine-eligible earlier in the week, when Cuomo said there were now enough doses to allow all New Yorkers age 60 and older to begin registering for appointments across the state.
Hochul was joined by the Rev. Mark Blue, president of the Buffalo chapter of the NAACP. Blue is the leader of the hub’s health equity task force, which has advised the group on how to ensure the vaccine is being distributed equitably across racial and geographic groups.
Blue also received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during the event and encouraged Black residents in Western New York, especially, to also become vaccinated.
“We’re working hard to make sure there’s vaccine equity for everybody,” he said.
Hochul received her dose in the left arm, Blue in his right. Afterward, Miller gave both leaders their CDC cards to show they had received their dose – and a sticker that’s become an increasingly common sight on social media from people who received a vaccine dose.
Hochul said that, once she has passed the 21-day period the CDC recommends for the vaccine to fully take effect, she looks forward to being able to visit her father, who is in his 80s, lives in Florida, and who she hasn’t been able to see in more than a year due to the pandemic.
“Dad got his shot; my kids have been worried about me,” Hochul said. “We’re one step closer of closing this painful chapter with more and more people having the sense ‘I’m going to be OK.’ ”
Registered nurse Mary Miller administers a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who became vaccine-eligible last week, when all New Yorkers aged 60 and older were permitted to begin getting the shots.