Touchdown! De Blasio and Porter cheer Staten Island high school football players getting vaccinated

Photo via Twitter/Mayor de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter stopped by the pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site outside of Curtis High School on Staten Island to watch the school’s football team get the shot Wednesday afternoon. 

Officials reported that 25 members of the Curtis High School Warriors received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only COVID-19 vaccination that has been granted an emergency use authorization for children 12 and up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The Pfizer vaccine is also the only inoculation that has received full FDA approval for people 16 years of age and older. 

Shortly after officials watched a few teens get the shot, the team’s captain, senior Justin Garcia who plays middle linebacker for the Warriors, spoke about how excited he is to finally start-up practice again with his teammates after being separated by the pandemic. 

Under Department of Education policy, all public school students interested in playing a high-risk sport like football, volleyball, or basketball must get their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine before the start of competitive play. For football, games begin on Sept. 3. 

“Some of these guys on the team are really my closest friends and I’ve been with them from youth football until now,” Garcia said. “These last two years have been hard because we haven’t been able to play football. We had complications with COVID and things were just not going well.”

His return to football, and to some semblance of normalcy, was all made possible by the vaccine. 

“I just got the first vaccine shot…it’s going to help us stay safe, it’s going to help us beat COVID-19, “ Garcia said. 

The mayor and schools chancellor have pushed vaccination as the key to safe and full return to classrooms on Sept. 13, promising a teen vaccination blitz ahead of the fall. But with only a few weeks to go before the start of school, only 56% of vaccine eligible children across the five boroughs, or 300,000 kids, have gotten at least one shot, officials say. 

The mayor’s most recent escalation took place on Monday, Aug. 23, when he ordered that all Department of Education employees must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.