NEW YORK – More than a half-million COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered at New York state's mass vaccination site at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, staffed by 600 New York National Guard members.
Manhattan resident Cassie Huang, 28, got the 500,000th shot from nurse Raquel Calderon and data entry technician Annette Melendez April 27 as National Guard Soldiers and Airmen looked on.
"This is what we, as residents, should do," Huang said. "I really appreciate this vaccination site and what the service members are doing here.
"I feel excited about getting my shot and getting back to normal," Huang said. "I am excited for New York City to be normal again."
The Department of Health vaccination site at Javits, which opened Jan. 13 and is staffed by personnel from multiple state agencies, has administered more vaccines than any other location in the United States, according to state officials.
At one point, 14,000 shots were administered at the site in 24 hours.
"The success of this site and the other sites across the state are proof that our efforts are working and getting us closer to defeating COVID once and for all and restoring a sense of normalcy," New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.
Cpl. Christopher Moreno, a member of the New York Army National Guard's 1569th Transportation Company, delivered the needle from the pharmacy to the vaccine station for the milestone 500,000th shot.
"Reaching this number helps to show people that the vaccine is safe and that the National Guard is working to help our communities get the shots," Moreno said.
Moreno has been part of the New York National Guard's COVID-19 response since March 2020. His original mission was to assist the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City in retrieving and transporting the remains of New Yorkers who died during the pandemic.
Alan Steel, the chief executive officer of the Jacob Javits Convention center, said his staff of state employees also took pride in seeing the 500,000th shot delivered.
"We have proven the efficiency and effectiveness of civilian, military and medical teams working together toward one common goal — to create a stronger and safer future for all New Yorkers," Steel said.
Col. Michael Bice, the commander of the Javits Task Force, said hitting the vaccination milestone demonstrated the benefits of people from many agencies working together.
"When ordinary people do extraordinary things, milestones are reached," said Bice, who was also in charge of operations at Javits when it was a field hospital in 2020.
"It's amazing, knowing this facility is leading the way in winning the war against COVID and returning our state and country back to normalcy and back to the people," Bice said.
Army National Guard Spc. Li Ji contributed to this article.