Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, CEO of Hatzolah, Urges Jewish New Yorkers to Get Boosters Before Chanukah

Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, CEO of Hatzolah, Urges Jewish New Yorkers to Get Boosters Before Chanukah

By Yehudit Garmaise

As the weather is getting colder, winter holidays, and increased travel opportunities approach, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who along many other leaders and health officials, fear a winter wave of COVID, said, “It is time to get boosted, everybody.”

While studies have shown that the vaccines’ effectiveness to fight COVID decreases over time, a recent British study showed that boosters, which are now available to all New Yorkers who are older than 18, can kick up recipients’ immunity back up to 94%.

Although hospitalizations due to COVID in the city have remained low, NYC Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, MD, pointed out that the New York healthcare professionals have, in recent days, seen an uptick in cases.

“We anticipated that this might occur as the weather gets cooler and people spend more time indoors,” said Dr. Chokshi. “But compared to this time last year, we have many more tools to fight COVID-19 and to keep a winter wave at bay.”

After urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated, get booster shots, and get tested for COVID before traveling and gathering for the upcoming winter holidays, Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced, this morning, Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, whom the mayor called “a great community leader.”

“One of the great stories from the fight against COVID has been what community organizations have done,” said the mayor who explained that while the work Hatzolah does all year “is amazing, during COVID, the good people who serve in Hatzolah have been [treating patients,] urging people to get tested, to get vaccinated.

“They played a crucial role at the community level.”

“On behalf of the over 1,400 EMTS and 250 paramedics who work in this city every day. we urge our community, we urge our city to keep up the great work,” said Rabbi Kalish, who spoke about the importance of providing positive feedback to New Yorkers about their efforts to fight COVID. “We are doing great.

“Chanukah is coming to our community, and we can’t stop,” said Rabbi Kalish before urging Jewish New Yorkers to get vaccinated, get boosters, and to get tested for COVID: before and after traveling.”

Since Monday, when Dr. Chokshi issued, to all healthcare providers, a Commissioner's Advisory that emphasized that all New Yorkers should now get boosters, New Yorkers heeded the call and rolled up their sleeves.

Before Monday, only New Yorkers who are older than 65 and at high risk of becoming infected with COVID because of where they live, work, or their health conditions were eligible, but yesterday, Mitch Katz, MD, the CEO of Health + Hospitals said that because all New Yorkers live in such a large, highly-populated and congested city, they are all considered eligible for boosters.

On Monday, almost 20,000 New Yorkers had gotten their booster shots and on Tuesday, more than 22,000 got their booster shots, said the mayor, who added that so far, 674,000 New Yorkers have gotten their third or second shots, for those who received the Johnson & Johnson one-shot.

In addition, New Yorkers, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, should get tested for COVID, before heading out to travel or family gatherings, said Ted Long, MD, the director of the city’s Test and Trace Corps, who announced that the city’s fleet of mobile testing vans has now doubled, so that now 70 vans are driving throughout the city to get people tested, which the city has already done at 1,400 locations: to test more than 1 million New Yorkers.

“Testing is one more layer of safety, of precaution to keep everyone safe,” Dr. Chokshi said.

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