Starting today, New York City will be implementing its “Key to NYC” vaccine mandate, under which New Yorkers will have to show proof of vaccination in order to go into restaurants, entertainment venues and gyms. Employees of those businesses will need to be vaccinated as well. Around 56% of New York City residents are fully vaccinated, and 63% of NYC’s population has gotten at least one dose, but 37% of the population remains unvaccinated. The new mandate, which will begin being enforced on Sept. 13, is likely to increase the number of New Yorkers getting vaccinated. Epicenter-NYC reporter Andrea Pineda-Salgado spoke with residents who were waiting to receive vaccinations this past week to find out what changed their minds. (alternate: to find out, ‘why now?’)

“I came here to get my vaccine in order to travel, it’s not like I wanted it, but it’s required. There was a lot of things I heard in the news, and I don’t think it needs to be required, but since work sites and buildings are asking for it, I think that is the main reason [people get it]” —Jose Toala, 34, Jackson Heights, Queens

“I was scared about the injection, basically that’s why [I waited]. I’m allergic to a lot of things like eggs and other things, so I need to make sure that if I get the vaccine it’s not gonna be [a] problem for me. I just made sure with my primary physician and he told me that I can get the vaccine. Covid stopped our normal life, so [if] we get vaccinated it is a new start, new hope and just–get it.” Bayazid Ahmed, 28, Jamaica, Queens

“I don’t want to sound mean, but I didn’t want to be the guinea pig, so I was waiting first to see how it goes. Also there was a lot of controversy with the other vaccines, like the results that people were having, what they were feeling, so I was just waiting to see. I do have asthma so I wanted to first make sure my health was good, how were people reacting to the vaccine to be sure that I wanted to get it. Everybody is already walking without masks and people are feeling like everything is done, but I feel like — hearing the news I think [Covid] is going up again so I would rather go get vaccinated. Also, I have kids at home, the little ones that can’t get vaccinated yet, so I want to be secure for them, and for my health as well.” Elizabeth, late 30’s, Corona, Queens

“The reason why I got vaccinated was because I care about my family and I love them and I needed to be vaccinated in order to be around them. Secondly, I was informed by my dad ‘you got to get vaccinated or you can’t come to my house,’ so that’s the real reason why I got vaccinated and in addition to that I was mandated by my job. Honestly speaking I wanted to see the results from everyone else, things that I heard in the media of anyone getting ill, really ill, because I have a weak system so everything makes me sick so I had to really ready myself up internally and spiritually in order to really do this. I was really nervous about it but I attacked it today and I did it and I feel great.” —Tara D. 50, East New York, Brooklyn

“I was waiting for a while to see how everything was reacting with everybody. It was a little confusing at first, it wasn’t like a discouragement, it was just confusing, so I wanted to wait till I could see everything clearly so that I could know what was going to be happening, and how everyone was reacting to the shots and stuff.” —Barbara Newkirk, 59, Canarsie, Brooklyn

“I didn’t really have time [to get vaccinated] and wasn’t scared of getting sick. I didn’t really trust that it could help me somehow, and now there is so many restrictions so I just decided to do it…my boyfriend, my family, all kind of were pushing me [to get the vaccine] because they got vaccinated a long time ago and we can’t go to the restaurants anymore.” —Natalia, 31, Brooklyn

“Yeah, we heard that if you get vaccinated you have less probability of getting the virus, that’s why we did it, because we wanted to feel a little more safe. Because the whole world is waiting for [the vaccine]. In my country [Ecuador] everyone is desperately waiting [to get vaccinated] but here a lot of people don’t get vaccinated because they don’t want to. In other countries that are not as developed are crying out for the vaccine so we had to take advantage of this. I would tell people to get vaccinated, so that there are less cases because it is a vaccine like for the flu. If we get [Covid] we will get it but it won’t kill us, like those who aren’t vaccinated. So, just get vaccinated and if you have side effects you’ll have to endure them but they are not so bad. Because in other countries like I said, people are crying out for the vaccine but here they are giving out things, they are begging people to get vaccinated, so get vaccinated.” —Ruben Chica, Veronica Cushcagua 28, Brooklyn (translated from Spanish)

“I had Covid four months ago, I did not have a good time, the doctors told me I need to wait four or five months before I could get the vaccine, that I why I came until now…after I survived the virus I said, as soon as the time that is necessary passes I will get the vaccine. [The vaccine incentives] are a motivation to motivate people to get the vaccine, but in reality you shouldn’t play with your health. We should be able to get vaccinated without receiving anything in return because it is our health that is at play.” —Jose Miguel Jimenez, 33, Brooklyn (translated from Spanish) 

“[I chose to come now] because I just gave birth. My daughter is already six months old and before I was scared the vaccine would affect her but now I think it is okay, so I took it.” —Kathy Chen, 34, Coney Island, Brooklyn

“[I chose to come now] because I wasn’t so sure of getting the vaccine because of the things I have seen. Even though you have the vaccine you can still get the virus, but now they are requiring it for my job.” —Guadalupe Mellado, 49, Bronx (translated from Spanish)

“I came to vaccinate my sons so that they can be safe from the Covid. I chose to come now because my husband and I got them first and we were waiting to see if we had any reactions but everything was good, so now I came to vaccinate them. The virus is here either way. We don’t know if there will be more variants or if there is something bigger coming but in the meantime we are vaccinated against anything from Covid.” —Yumarda Rivera, 42, Highbridge, Bronx (translated from Spanish)

“[I chose to come now] because I didn’t have time because of work and time, but today I came out early. My mother told me they are putting vaccines here, so I came…Now I’ll be able to work without a mask. People should just get their vaccine, protect your family, your neighbours, anyone around you.” —Christian Perez, 21, Highbridge, Bronx (translated from Spanish)


Pineda-Salgado also spoke with many people from other countries who traveled to the U.S. to receive the vaccine. 

“I am coming from Norway and there we don’t have vaccines for my age group. So I actually took it as soon as I arrived in the States. I couldn’t get it any earlier, this is the earliest that I could. I feel so secure now that I have it, and I am just very lucky that I can come here and get it. So having vaccines available, you are kind of lucky to have that.” —Gry, 33, Norway

“I’ve always wanted to get vaccinated, but in the country I was in, the process is very slow. I am originally from Venezuela, but I am currently living in Ecuador…and they are not giving us the best vaccines. I wanted to get the vaccine because I lost someone very close to me because of Covid and I do not want to go through that. If you get vaccinated you get sick, but you don’t die which is what I am most scared of.” —Barbara Ibañez, 20, Ecuador (translated from Spanish)

“We are not from the U.S., we are from Guatemala and vaccinations over there are really slow. We had to pay a trip and travel to get the vaccine because we had Covid like three months ago so we couldn’t get the vaccine until there was a time period that passed.” —Mariana and Charles Hess, 31 and 30, Guatemala

“We came to get vaccinated here because we think that in the United States the vaccine is better than the ones offered in Mexico. Over there they are giving AstraZeneca. People should get vaccinated if they want [Covid] to end soon.”  —Maria Fernanda, 24 and Marta Idalia 23, Mexico

“I am currently vacationing with my family, I am coming from Mexico and right now the vaccine system is inefficient. We have been waiting for our vaccine for a long time, unfortunately in Mexico the system isn’t as agile, it is slow, but I recommend everyone to get a vaccine. We’ve had family members that have died due to Covid, so we have to be responsible with ourselves but with others too.” —Emmanuel Marquez, 38, Mexico

“I got sick, and they didn’t let me get vaccinated until a certain amount of time passed. I had already planned my trip before, so I took advantage of being here to get vaccinated. I 1000 times recommend people to get vaccinated, I had Covid before and it was horrible, it is not worth not getting vaccinated.” —Adriana Herrera, 30, México

“We are here to get vaccinated, we are from Korea and there are no vaccines from Moderna, so we came because we wanted vaccines from Moderna. [We would tell people] to get vaccinated and get their gift. We think it was a nice policy [to receive 100 dollars].” —Hyun Wook, 37, South Korea

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