Katia Hernandez lives in Lima, Peru. For weeks, she has been searching for places to travel to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Then, Friday morning, she found out Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to begin offering vaccines to visiting tourists.
"When I saw some friends on Facebook going to the United States to get vaccinated, at first, for me, I felt it was immoral because you are taking the vaccine from an American citizen, and to me, that is wrong because here, we don't have the vaccine, and I know how important they are," she said. "But then, I was starting to get more news that U.S.A. was open. That was when my mind changed."
Hernandez said the vaccine rollout in Peru has been slow. The earliest she thinks she will be able to get it is September. So now, she is looking into a trip to New York City, especially since the plan is to offer tourists the single-dose Johnson & Johnson immunization.
"To plan a trip for a vaccine that has two doses, you have to have a lot of money," she said. "So when I saw this today in the morning, I was like, 'Wow, New York, and Johnson & Johnson. That is the one we want.'"
De Blasio announced he wants to install mobile COVID-19 vaccination sites at popular tourists attractions like Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line.
But first, the plan needs state authorization to expand to non-New York residents.
The city said as soon as they get the green light, they will begin vaccinating tourists with the hope of promoting tourism and jump-starting the economy.
"If people have the opportunity to get a one-shot vaccination, come into Times Square, eat at our restaurants, stay at our hotels, shop at our stores and also get vaccinated, that is a win, win, win," said Tom Harris, acting president of the Times Square Alliance.
The last time Hernandez visited New York was back in 2017 to watch the ball drop from Times Square. After her mother is fully vaccinated, which should be by the end of June, she plans to go back to Times Square, this time to get her shot.
"It is like the perfect excuse to go," she said.