MANHATTAN — Mayor Bill de Blasio received the Johnson & Johnson version of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning at a press conference, hoping to highlight his trust in the shot and its usefulness for ramping up the city’s vaccination efforts.
Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi administered the vaccine as the mayor’s wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, stood next to him.
De Blasio, 59, said he decided to get the vaccine when he became newly eligible Wednesday as a public-facing government employee. Gov. Andrew Cuomo received the shot yesterday in Harlem.
“I want to tell everyone, that’s really easy,” de Blasio said shortly after receiving the shot, saying it was as easy as a flu shot. “I have total faith in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That’s why it’s now in my arm.”
De Blasio said it was a “great feeling when you know you’ve been vaccinated, and you can protect your loved ones, and your family, and your whole community,” gesturing to McCray.
Shortly after he received the vaccine, de Blasio joked that he was still waiting for Chokshi to tell him when he would administer the needle, saying that he barely felt the prick in his left shoulder.
De Blasio said he was expecting some side effects, which are common within the first 24 to 48 hours after receiving the Johnson vaccine.
De Blasio joined the more than 812,000 New York City residents who are fully vaccinated, according to city vaccine data.
The mayor also criticized Cuomo’s plan to allow fitness centers to resume in-person classes starting on Monday. Top health advisers to de Blasio earlier this week warned against resuming such classes, citing stagnating positivity rates for the virus in the city and the spread of more infectious variants.
“It’s troubling to me that our health care team has said very clearly, this is not what they would want done,” de Blasio said. “And the state just doesn’t care.”
De Blasio suggested that Cuomo was reducing limits on exercise to score political points with New Yorkers amid a series of ongoing scandals, including multiple allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by former staffers. Cuomo has denied any harassing behavior with his employees, and issued an apology to a woman he tried to kiss at a wedding.
“Is this being done because of what the data and science are telling us?” de Blasio said. “Or is it being done for political reasons?”
Chokshi said that the city’s health department was not consulted about the decision to allow in-person exercise classes. De Blasio said that the state has the legal right under current emergency rules to make that decision for the city.