Gov Hochul’s 2021 Thanksgiving Message

November 24, 2021

Hi, I’m Governor Kathy Hochul. I want to wish all New Yorkers a Happy Thanksgiving.

For many of us, the holiday season is a special time of year when we gather with our families and loved ones. But we’re also headed into a vulnerable time when more people are traveling and gathering indoors. That means that the chance of spreading COVID-19 is higher. Unfortunately, we are already seeing that play out in regions across New York State.

My team has been closely working with local leaders on this, and last weekend I held calls with county executives in every region of the state. I let them know that the State will provide any resources and support they need to combat this deadly virus. I want to thank local officials, like Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who are taking strong actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their community. That’s the kind of leadership we need to see.

I’m also asking business owners for their help. Please encourage your customers and staff to be vaccinated and to wear masks if your business is indoors. We’re all in this together and we need everyone to do their part because the bottom line is that we can’t afford another spike in the numbers this winter. So let’s be smart.

We know the tools to stop the spread of this deadly virus.I know many of you are tired of hearing about this pandemic, but we’re not through it yet, and the vaccine is truly our way out. Recent data shows that less than one percent of vaccinated New Yorkers are hospitalized due to COVID. So, if you haven’t gotten the shot, what are you waiting for? Now is the best time to get yourself vaccinated ahead of the holidays. Don’t put it off. Go to COVID19.health.ny.gov to make an appointment.

Thankfully, 90 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose, and I want to thank you for keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. If you’ve already gotten your two doses, then you should get a booster shot. I got a booster shot a few weeks ago because my family will be visiting for Thanksgiving. And you know what? It didn’t hurt and I felt fine. More importantly, I knew I was keeping myself and my family and my 85 year old father safe.

The Food and Drug Administration recently authorized the booster for all adults, and doctors recommend getting the booster. The booster is free and safe and widely available. There are nearly 4,500 locations in New York that are giving out booster shots. So book an appointment today at ny.gov/boosters.

We’ve also been working on a detailed plan of action in consultation with doctors and local health officials to vaccinate our children who are 5 and older. Vaccinating our children not only protects them from variants, it also prevents the spread of COVID. Now I know parents and guardians out there still want to learn more about the vaccine for their child. I get it, I’m a mom, too. So I encourage you to talk to your pediatrician. Doctors and respected health experts agree: the vaccine is safe for children. So please take this holiday break to get your child vaccinated. It’s the perfect time before getting together with family members.

As an incentive, I recently announced a chance for a full scholarship for children at a SUNY or CUNY college or university, and today I want to congratulate our first week round of winners. There’s still four more weeks left, so don’t miss out. Please visit ny.gov/vaccinateeducategraduate to enroll. Not only are you keeping your child safe and healthy, you are creating a bright future for them.

I’m also proud to announce a new incentive today called Take Your Shot for An Outdoor Adventure. Starting December 1, five lucky New Yorkers who get their first shot will have the chance to win lifetime hunting, fishing and birding licenses and deluxe gear to go with it! So what are you waiting for? Go to dec.ny.gov to learn more about how to enroll.

Finally, if we want to beat COVID, we also need to keep flu cases down. So don’t forget to get your annual flu shot.

I’ll close by sharing a few tips at home to keep yourself and others safe from COVID for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Limit gatherings to only vaccinated family and loved ones. If you can, get tested prior to seeing anyone who is at high risk. If the weather permits open the windows and doors. Think about ventilation. If you feel sick, stay home. Wear a mask when in public indoor places.

And if you’re already vaccinated and got the booster I have one more request for you, I want you to think about the person in your life who isn’t vaccinated yet. Reach out to them. Tell them why you chose to get the vaccine and encourage them to do so, too.

Tell them not to wait. Don’t put it off.

So let’s do this, New Yorkers. Let’s prevent a spike in the numbers this winter. And celebrate with our loved ones safely this holiday season.

Thank you.