Al Roker received his first dose of the
The weatherman, who qualified to get the vaccine in New York because he is over 65, scored a highly-coveted appointment at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, which made 300 available on Sunday. According to the
‘I kept hitting refresh, refresh, refresh on the browser and finally got in,’ Al, 66, explained. ‘They put up a certain number of appointments each day, and then, luck of the draw. You have to keep going in.’
First step: Al Roker, 66, received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine live on the Today show on Tuesday
No special treatment: Al, who qualified because he is over 65, said he spent the weekend trying to book the appointment through the New York State Department of Health website
The Today star said it was important to him to book an appointment through the busy online server like everyone, stressing that he didn’t want special treatment.
‘I’ve got a brother Chris who runs New York City Health and Hospitals Metropolitan,’ the journalist admitted. ‘He said, “Hey you can come here.” I said, “I don’t want to jump the line. I want to do this officially and above board.’
Al, who underwent prostate cancer surgery in November, asked Lenox Hill medical director Dr. Daniel Baker whether the vaccine was safe before getting the injection on live TV.
‘The clinical trials really showed its efficacy,’ the doctor said. ‘We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of doses since and everybody’s doing rather quite well.’
Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are currently the only vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and each of them requires two doses, 21 and 28 days apart, respectively.
Information: Al scored a highly-coveted appointment at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, where he spoke with Dr. Daniel Baker about the vaccine
However, Dr. Baker made it clear that people still have to wear face masks even after they receive their second dose of the vaccine.
‘That’s actually a key component of keeping us all safe,’ he said. ‘We’re not going to know who has had the vaccine.
‘We are also going to take some time in terms of getting up to [vaccinating] enough people to where we can really take these masks off. Mask wearing is going to be with us for some time now.’
Al wanted to know if someone who has been vaccinated can still spread COVID-19 while being asymptomatic.
Dr. Baker said that as of now that remains unclear, but he’s ‘hopeful’ that the answer is no.
Easy: Nurse Jessica Callard administered the vaccine, and Al was surprised how quick it was. He will have to get a second dose in 21 days
Recovery: Al’s COVID vaccination comes two months after he revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery to treat it
‘As with most diseases, when you get some immunity, we’re hoping you wouldn’t then be able to then transmit it,’ he explained. ‘We’ll have a little bit more information coming.’
The doctor also warned against people relying on the public achieving herd immunity instead of getting the vaccine.
‘Herd immunity really comes at about 85 to 90 per cent, and the only way to get there is if everybody goes for the vaccine,’ Dr. Baker said. ‘We’re going to get that 10 and 15 per cent by people who couldn’t get it because of a medical illness or something along those lines, so we all have to do our part.’
As for side effects from the vaccine, Al was told he will likely have soreness in his arm, but he will be ‘up and on the Today show tomorrow morning no problem.’
After speaking with the doctor, he sat down next to nurse Jessica Callard, who administered the vaccine into the deltoid muscle in his upper arm.
‘Will I get a Hello Kitty Band-Aid?’ Al joked.
The weatherman was surprised how quick and painless it was, calling the nurse a ‘pro.’
The response to Al’s vaccination was mostly positive, with many people congratulating him.
‘Stay well Big Guy!!!’ one person tweeted, while another commented: ‘Yay Al!!’
A few people even complimented his arm muscles, with one fan writing: ‘Sounds like a Roker gun show.’
‘He has an open carry permit for those guns!’ someone else agreed.
The segment was shared throughout the show’s social media pages, and Al posted footage of his vaccination on his Instagram page as well.
Fans were happy to see him doing well, but some were admittedly frustrated that they were unable to get the vaccine in their own states.
‘Good For You Al! Wish it was that easy for we Seniors in NJ,’ one person wrote, while another added: ‘Oh so jelly. I’ll be dead from old age before Alabama gets their ducks in a row.’
‘So he gets it before my 80 year old mom who has COPD and lives in Arkansas,’ someone else said, not understanding that the vaccine rollout is different in each state.
Some rushed to Al’s defense, pointing out that he is of age and recently battled cancer.
In early November, Al publicly announced that he had a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Three days later, he underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his prostate as well as surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.
The procedure was performed by Dr. Vincent Laudone at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on November 9.
Days after the surgery, he received a pathology report that found there is no evidence of cancer in his body outside of his prostate, which he had surgically removed.
Roker was with his wife Deborah Roberts, 60, and son Nick, 18, when he heard the good news, though he noted he’s ‘not out of the woods.’
‘It was this great relief,’ he said on the Today show at the time. ‘For a first start, this is terrific news. I’m going to be up for — and a lot of people who live with cancer — up for lifelong testing to make sure this doesn’t come back.’
Not only was the surgery a success, but he also recovered quickly. The weather forecaster was up and doing laps around the hospital hallways just hours after the procedure, according to Today.
The TV veteran only returned to the Today show on November 23, and a few weeks later, Al filmed outside in the Today plaza for the first time since March — a momentous occasion that left him screaming for joy.
He had his Today co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb in fits of laughter as he ran around the space outside of the studio, yelling out: ‘It feels so good!’
Al then proceeded to press himself up against the glass window of Studio 1A where the delighted anchors were seated, unable to contain his excitement.
‘I gotta tell you, the last time I was on this plaza was March 13,’ he said, while running up to the window of the studio.
Savannah, 48, encouraged Al to yell out his signature catchphrase — ‘My people!’ — which he did with gusto, despite the fact that the normally-crowded plaza was almost entirely empty amid the ongoing pandemic.
The lack of live audience didn’t seem to have an impact on Al’s enthusiasm, and he joyfully marched around the plaza with his arms outstretched as if it was filled with thousands of people.