New York City reached another magic number in its effort to vaccinate residents against COVID-19, with 70% of all adults in the Five Boroughs having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Yet after announcing the good news at his Thursday press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio seethed over a reporter’s question regarding vaccine hesitancy.
Bob Hennelly of The Chief Leader asked the mayor about misinformation circulated among some uniformed services personnel, in the Police and Fire Departments, who claimed that if they were previously exposed to COVID-19, they retained enough immunity to the point where a vaccination is not necessary.
That isn’t true, and it seemed that the mayor had heard just about enough from the COVID-19 vaccine rumor mill.
“This is in the category of ‘give me a bleeping break,'” an apoplectic de Blasio responded. “When did everyone get a medical degree? I’m sick of everyone armchair saying that they know more than the doctors.”
De Blasio acknowledged that people had the right to feel a little skeptical about the vaccine at the start, but that the advice of medical professionals — and the effectiveness of the vaccine itself, which has been administered to more than 150 million Americans — had put such skepticism to bed.
“Listen to the doctors who have been protecting you and have been saving the lives of your family and your community,” the mayor said. “They’re telling you with one voice, ‘Get vaccinated.’ So can we stop with the amateurness? [sic] This has got to end.”
De Blasio then turned to his Health Commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, who then explained that a previously infected person’s natural immunity isn’t enough to protect them from future infection.
“Our clear message is even if you’ve been previously infected with COVID, you should get vaccinated once you have recovered,” Chokshi said. “We know that vaccination strengthens the protection you receive and it may further extend the duration of your immunity as well. This is particularly important with the Delta variant because we know that mounting a stronger immune response gives you a better protection against the Delta variant and some of the others that have been emerging.”
For the most part, New Yorkers have been listening to the experts and rolling up their sleeves. De Blasio said 70% of all adults have now been inoculated against COVID, and 58% of all eligible residents (including children over 12) have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
“That’s a really big deal, and that explains why we’re able to keep moving forward with our recovery, why the summer of New York City is happening,” the mayor said. “But it’s also a reminder that we’ve got to keep going deeper and deeper.”
The fast-spreading Delta variant is making the rounds in New York City and driving up the number of infections, but de Blasio pointed out that hospitalizations remains very low — just 0.46 per 100,000 people.
The low rate is also further evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness, de Blasio said, as it shows that the antibodies built up from the vaccine have helped New Yorkers exposed to the virus be either asymptomatic or avoid serious symptoms.
It’s also helping the city’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic, and giving tourists a reason to return to New York.
De Blasio pointed out that last week, hotels in New York City sold 481,284 rooms, the highest weekly number since before the pandemic began in New York City in March 2020. Additionally, visits to the Statue of Liberty, another major tourist attraction, are up 22% from the end of June.
“Something great is happening, and what does it mean? More activity, more jobs, more dollars in the pockets of New Yorkers, more recovery,” the mayor said. “But we’ve got to keep it moving. And the way we keep it moving is vaccination.”