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Another shot at vaccine equity: Congresswoman Meng receives vax at new hub in Queens

Congresswoman Grace Meng receives her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Photo by Dean Moses

Congresswoman Grace Meng received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after postponing the shot until the community she represents had equal access to the life-saving needle.

Just before 10 a.m. on Monday morning, Congresswoman Grace Meng arrived at the Korean Community Services Center (KCS) in Bayside, Queens. This newly minted facility opened last week after Meng had been advocating for a vaccine site in the district, citing difficulty for many residents to travel outside of the area. Now that the site located on 203-05 32nd Avenue has opened to the public, Meng received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 29.

It took a matter of seconds for EMS personnel Anthony Ivanditto to administer the shot. Meng was visibly surprised and impressed by how quick, painless, and efficient the process was, commenting “I didn’t feel anything” as the needle was removed. Meng was granted her very own card as proof of the vaccination before rushing to another room where she engaged in a video call with Mayor Bill de Blasio as he held his daily briefing.  Here the Congresswoman discussed the process via the other end of a laptop, beginning by proudly showcasing her vaccine card.

Meng shows her vaccine card to the mayor during a video call. Photo by Dean Moses

“I just got my first vaccine, my first shot in the arm at the KCS in Northeast Queens. It was easy, it was painless, but I’m going to be honest I was a little nervous before I went in but I literally felt nothing. People should feel very comfortable with taking the vaccine,” Meng said to the Mayor.

She emphasized the importance of receiving the vaccine as not just a protection for herself, but those around her. While any visit to a doctor may incur a level of foreboding and uneasiness,  Meng assured all those who listened to her call with the Mayor that it was quick and easy. 

“I just really want to urge all New Yorkers and all Americans to get the vaccine as soon as it is your turn and you are eligible. The end of the coronavirus is in sight and we will soon hopefully be seeing a return to normalcy here in Northeast Queens,” Meng said.

Meng represents the 6th community district consisting of Auburndale, Bayside, Elmhurst, Flushing, Forest Hills, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth, Middle Village, Murray Hill, and Rego Park.  For quite some time, Meng has been working with elected officials to create vaccine equity for Queens residents who may have a hard time traveling to distant sites, such as the elderly or disabled. Meng wanted to ensure that when installing a hub in the community, that it was a location where people felt comfortable and trustworthy.

“We’ve been working with our local elected officials on the city and state level to ask for a major site in Northeast Queens and other parts of Queens for many months now. Northeast Queens, as you know, is a transportation desert. People cannot necessarily easily take a bus or subway to get vaccinated. There are also a high number of senior citizens who need a site that is close to them,” Meng said.

Congresswoman Grace Meng speaks with mayor Bill de Blasio during his daily briefing.Photo by Dean Moses

After the conference call, Meng spoke with amNewYork Metro regarding her relief and gratitude for finally being able to receive her vaccine in Bayside.

“Our community has been advocating for many months. I could have had the vaccine a few months ago back in January, but I really wanted to be able to wait with my constituents and with my neighbors and that when it was available for them, I would feel comfortable getting it,” Meng told amNewYork Metro.

By showcasing this step toward protecting herself, it was Meng’s goal to inspire fellow New Yorkers to follow her lead, including those in the Asian community.

“I know that many are excited and probably got it before I did, but for anyone else who is hesitant and who is not sure whether they should get it or scared that it might hurt, it doesn’t hurt. I was nervous too, but it didn’t hurt. I want to urge everyone to get it,” Meng said.

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