UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in New York, 28 January 2021 /Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN chief publicly receives coronavirus vaccine in New York

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday in New York, a UN statement said.

“I was fortunate and grateful to get the first dose of my COVID-19 vaccine today,” Guterres said after getting his shot.

“We must get to work to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone, everywhere. Our world can only get ahead of this virus one way — in solidarity. None of us are safe until all of us are safe. My thanks to all the essential and frontline workers who have risked their own health to protect and support their communities. Solidarity is crucial in our global fight against the pandemic,” he added.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, after receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday in New York/Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe


Guterres, 71, was eligible to receive the vaccine on the basis of his age: New York residents over the age of 65 are included in the current phase of vaccinations in the city, which also includes school workers, first responders, public transit workers and grocery workers.

In December, Guterres declared that he would happily receive the vaccine in public, and said that, for him, vaccination is a moral obligation. “Each one of us provides a service to the whole community,” he had said, “because there is no longer a risk of spreading the disease”.

The statement said journalists and camera crews were invited to observe the UN chief receive his shot, which took place at a time when many countries are seeing a significant proportion of their citizens expressing “vaccine hesitancy”.

The UN has noted a significant level of mistrust and, in some countries, including Japan and several European nations, around half the population are reportedly unsure about getting a COVID-19 vaccine at this stage.

Kunle Oladapo

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