MANHATTAN — Thursday was the first day that children 12 years old and up could get vaccinated against coronavirus.
Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for that class of vaccinations, but there were no signs on Thursday of the vaccine being in short supply in our region, even though millions more people are now eligible for it.
Levi Miller, 15, was with his dad, Jason Lloyd Miller, at the Jacob Javits Center vaccination site, minutes after Levi received his first dose.
“Very easy, you just walk in and then they lead you there. Not difficult,” the ninth grader said. “I was expecting it to be like a ton of people, but it was very easy.”
Dr. Susannah Hills is a pediatric airway surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, and an expert in childhood respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19. She gave a clear reminder that expanding vaccination eligibility to children is of great importance.
“We’ve seen them come to the hospital,” she said. “I have patients call to my clinic or come into my clinic every week, sick with Covid 19 on an outpatient basis. “Children make up 22% of the population of the United States and we’re never going to approach a level of vaccination, a level of herd immunity without immunizing kids, that will make it safe. This just a meaningful step in that direction.
Dr. Hills said said that getting preteens and early teens vaccinated is a significant step toward “to some semblance of normalcy.”
Getting parents themselves, as well as other adults, vaccinated may be the bigger challenge.
As part of that effort, a drive through vaccination clinic opened on Thursday in the parking lot of Citi Field, in Flushing Meadows, Queens. It’s in addition to the walk-in vaccination site that’s been at the ballpark since last February.
Also on Thursday, as part of the adult vaccination effort, Mayor Bill de Blasio spent part of his daily briefing eating a hamburger and fries. It may have seemed like an on-camera stunt — which it was — but it was also a serious call to action for more people to get vaccinated.
The burger and fries were from Shake Shack, a New York City-born and New York City-based company. Their CEO, Randy Garutti, joined the mayor virtually at the morning news conference, to announce that anyone who goes to one of the city’s mobile vaccination sites will get a voucher for a free Shake Shack burger.
Garutti also announced an incentive for people who are already vaccinated: a free order of fries for the next month whenever anyone shows their proof of vaccination at any New York City Shake Shack, and purchases a burger or chicken sandwich.
At the company’s original location, in Madison Square Park in Midtown, nobody waiting in line to order had heard about the free fries offer. PIX11 News informed the customers, who verified the information at the order window.
Jacob Zheng was at the front of the line. He came away from placing his order, with a smile on his face.
“I got the free fries, yeah!,” he exclaimed. “That’s great!”
Jenny Cimino was also in line.
“I want the free fries,” she declared, upon learning about the promotion.
After she and her husband ordered, she showed off her receipt, which read “Vaccination/Fries,” and a discount of $9.40, including tax, for both orders of french fries.
The campaign, which runs through June 12, is meant to both reward people who’ve gotten vaccinated, and promote getting more unvaccinated people to get a shot. If Cimino’s reaction is any indication, it’s worth it.
The vaccine doses build immunity against a deadly disease, of course. She indicated that she was very aware of that.
She also showed that she appreciated the fringe benefit.
“Free fries,” she said, delightfully.