Queens hospital workers 2 of the first to get Pfizer vaccine

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ELMHURST, Queens — There were cheers and excitement in the halls of Elmhurst Hospital Wednesday as two of their own received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Just a little after 10 a.m. with cameras clicking away, Veronica Delgado, a physician’s assistant in the emergency department and William Kelly, a service aide, told us why they had little hesitation being the first at Elmhurst.

“It’s like that first bit of sunlight in the morning after a very long and frightening night,” said Delgado.

“I hope everyone around the world takes the vaccine shot, so we can all get back together,” added Kelly.

The setting at Elmhurst Hospital is particularly poignant because it became ground zero of the pandemic in New York City. The death toll mounted in the Spring and the hospital was overflowing with patients with the coronavirus. Wednesday, health officials here said they are better prepared, like so many others.

However, hospitalization rates are rising again.

While Mayor Bill de Blasio continued to warn of a possible shutdown of New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that will be up to New Yorkers.

“Nobody knows what New Yorkers will do between now and Christmas. Not predestined. Numbers are a reflection on what we do,” said Cuomo.

Overall the state’s infection rate is 7.11% as of Wednesday. Another 95 New Yorkers died Tuesday from COVID-19. In New York City and infection rates continue to be the highest in the borough of Staten Island. The governor blamed politics for the rise.

Back to Elmhurst, Queens, a newly inoculated Delgado had a closing message to her fellow New Yorkers.

“My message to non-healthcare New Yorkers. You have to do your own research and everyone has to make their own decision. Don’t be afraid of the vaccine and don’t get your information from Facebook,” she said.

How quickly vaccinations go out will depend on supply. A Moderna shipment is expected next week, pending approval from the FDA.

The mayor says that will inevitably ramp up vaccination distribution. As for Elmhurst Hospital itself, city health officials believe all of their healthcare workers will be vaccinated in about three weeks.

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