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Al Roker is protecting himself against COVID-19. During Tuesday's episode of the Todayshow, the 66-year-old co-host received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine live on-air.
Roker qualifies for the vaccine due to his age, but it still wasn't easy for him to get an appointment.
"All weekend long, I went on the New York state health.gov website and kept logging in and adding my information. Kept logging in, logging in, I finally hit pay dirt Sunday morning and I got assigned here to Lenox Hill Hospital," he said. "That's how I made it. But it was a constant [process]. I kept hitting refresh, refresh, refresh on the browser and finally got in."
Roker described the appointment process as "luck of the draw," noting that each facility distributing the vaccine only has "a certain number of appointments each day." While Roker had a family connection that would've allowed him to get the vaccine without the hassle, he opted to wait his turn like everyone else.
"I've got a brother, Chris, who runs New York City Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan and he said, 'Hey, you can come here!' And I said, 'I don't want to jump the line. I want to do this officially and above board,'" Roker explained. "So I figured this was the best way... [My appointment] could've just as easily been in February or March, but I lucked out."
Before Roker received the first shot of the Pfzier vaccine, Dr. Daniel Baker assured him that it's "absolutely" safe, adding that people who have received it are "doing rather quite well." He also noted that, much like the flu vaccine, some soreness in the arm is likely after the shot.
Nurse Jessica Callard administered the vaccine into Roker's arm, with the morning show host joking, "Will I get a Hello Kitty Band-Aid?"
Though Roker is now in the process of being vaccinated -- he'll receive his second dose in 21 days -- Dr. Baker emphasized the importance of continuing to wear a mask.
"That's a key component of keeping us all safe. We're not going to know who has had the vaccine. We're also gonna take some time in terms of getting up to enough people to where we can really take these masks off," he said. "Mask wearing is going to be with us for some time now."
While doctors are "hopeful" that the vaccine will prevent people from carrying COVID-19 and passing it to others, that has yet to be proven.
"As with most diseases, when you get some immunity we're hopeful that you wouldn't then be able to transmit it, but we're going to see as these things go and we'll have a little more information coming," Dr. Baker said. "... We all have to do our part, we have to go get the vaccine, to really create that herd immunity."