City’s first deputy health commish Easterling gets COVID-19 vaccine in Brooklyn to highlight safety

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s First Deputy Commissioner and chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling is injected with his first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Photo by Dean Moses

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Dr. Torian Easterling received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday afternoon.

The DOHMH is putting the vaccine where its mouth is. Dr. Easterling arrived at Canarsie High School amidst the snowfall just before 1 p.m. on Feb. 7 to join over 400 individuals who received their inoculation throughout the day.

The educational campus-turned-vacation hub has traded in its young scholars for an array of medical professionals—medical professionals such as Dr. Easterling. The first deputy commissioner who was appointed to the position last September also worked at Canarsie High School overseeing the injection dispersal process before now transitioning to the other side of the needle.

Receiving his first dose of the Moderna vaccine, he chose to get the shot to both keep a previous promise of receiving the jab when he became eligible, while also showcasing the procedure and its safety.  

Dr. Torian’s information is taken by the on site staff. Photo by Dean Moses

amNewYork Metro/Brooklyn Paper shadowed Dr. Easterling as he underwent the inoculation process from start to finish. He underwent the same screening process as members of the public hoping to join the ever-growing list of those immunized.

Beginning by consulting with an on-site specialist, the Deputy Commissioner’s information and eligibility was taken before he was escorted to his scheduled appointment. Within the school’s lunchroom a variety of tables were erected from where the life-saving vaccine is administered. A registered nurse informs that they are ready to receive their next patient by displaying a green sign exhibiting the table’s number.

Dr. Torian presents his QR code to the Nurse. Photo by Dean Moses

Here Dr. Easterling sat with a fellow medical professional and prepared for his first dose of the Moderna vaccine by reiterating his name, address, and allergies. Within a matter of seconds, the shot was administered, and he was being directed to the school’s auditorium where he would be monitored for 15 minutes and his second appointment was scheduled.

During this respite, amNewYork Metro/Brooklyn Paper had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Easterling regarding his experience and recent vaccine hub controversies.

The Moderna vaccine Dr. Torian received. Photo by Dean Moses

“I am feeling great, I am really feeling great. I am honored and humbled that I get to be in this position and get to show New Yorkers that the vaccine is safe,” he said as he sat in the recovery space.

Although the snow was falling in heavy clumps, the Deputy Commissioner stated that it was important that he keep his appointment in order to keep a promise.

Dr. Torian is injected with the vaccine. Photo by Dean Moses

“It is my time to get vaccinated. I served at our vaccine hub—this vaccine hub, Canarsie Educational Center—we have been saying we need to wait our turn and because I am eligible now, I chose to get the vaccine,” Dr. Easterling said.

While many individuals who visit vaccine hubs in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan all cite positive experiences during their time receiving the doses, they also say that navigating the government website is extremely difficult, especially for the elderly who are currently the prime candidates.

Dr. Torian is monitored for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine. Photo by Dean Moses

“We are being responsive, and we are hearing that as well. We are looking to improve our appointment scheduling system. A part of it is that we need to make sure that it is streamlined, we are asking the questions to ensure that a person is eligible but to also ensure that if anyone has had a previous allergic reaction to vaccines that we are identifying them. So, we need to streamline those questions, but also then being able to match those appointments, making sure that our times are clear, that it is really fluent. But also you should know that we do have a call line, so we are matching appointments through the call line, so individuals should call 1-877-VAX-4NYC,” Dr. Easterling said.      

You can watch a portion of our interview with Dr. Easterling below.



More from around NYC