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Dr. Anthony Fauci wants everyone on board.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made an unexpected appearance at the MTA’s board meeting on Thursday — calling on the agency’s workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and reminiscing about his childhood riding the rails in New York City.
“The New York City subway system is embedded in my brain,” said Fauci in a video message — introducing himself as “Tony” and “someone who grew up in Brooklyn.”
“I took the subway every day to get from my home in Brooklyn, to and from Regis High School in Manhattan. I would take either the BMT — what was then called the West End line — when I lived in Bensonhurst, or what was then called the Sea Beach line when I moved to Dyker Heights. I would take it from there to 14th Street in Union Square where I would pick up the IRT Lexington Avenue Express to 86th and Lex to get to Regis on 85th between Madison and Park. And so I can relate warmly to you folks who played an important role in my younger days as a New Yorker.”
He then said he “strongly” encourages all MTA workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“This pandemic has taken so much from us, and vaccination is the best way for us to fight back and help restore our lives,” he said.
“Throughout the US pandemic, you have kept New York City’s public transit moving, Fauci said. “That is why you are essential workers at the front of the line to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Take advantage of it, get vaccinated.”
He added, “The sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner we can get our lives back and our country back on track.”
Fauci’s plea comes after the virus has taken the lives of at least 130 MTA workers, and sickened thousands of more.
Transit workers became eligible for the shot under state rules last week — and even get a financial bonus for receiving it — but the city’s rollout has been hampered by a clunky sign-up system and a shortage of doses.
MTA Chairman Pat Foye at Thursday’s meeting urged transit workers to take Fauci’s advice.
“We can’t pass up this opportunity to crush the virus. We’ve come too far and our employees have worked so hard to keep the region moving during the pandemic,” Foye said.