A 52-year-old SoulCycle instructor and Instagram influencer in New York City netted a coveted coronavirus vaccine on Staten Island, justifying the move by arguing that she is an “educator,” according to a report.
Stacey Griffith scored the jab Friday, even as the city faces a significant shortage of vaccines that has led to tens of thousands of appointments being postponed and the temporary closure of inoculation sites spanning the city.
“VACCINE DAY! Step one of the Moderna magic!! One hour drive to STATEN ISLAND worth every minute!” wrote Griffith in a since-deleted Friday Instagram post tagged at Port Richmond High School on the island’s North Shore, according to The Daily Beast. “It takes a village.”
But shortly after Griffith shared the post with her more than 64,000 followers, she faced the wrath of commenters who said that they and their loved ones had yet to be able to get their hands on the vaccine — in some cases despite qualifying factors including serious underlying illnesses, the report said.
Reached by The Daily Beast, Griffith argued that her job qualified her as an “educator” — with school teachers currently eligible for the vaccine in New York, along with seniors 65 and older — and that her inoculation helped keep others safe.
“Having me vaccinated can stop the short spread within groups!” Griffith told the outlet.
“I function as a common point for many overlapping people. In my profession of health and wellness as a teacher, it’s my priority daily to keep my community and their respiratory systems operating at full capacity so they can beat this virus if they are infected by it. I can only teach to them if I am healthy myself.”
Griffith maintained that she “had the same opportunity everyone else has by going online and filling out a questionnaire,” and didn’t call in any “favors” or pay money to grease the wheels.
She also contended that she was helping to build confidence in the safety of the vaccine, and setting a positive example.
“All teachers are eligible to apply for the vaccine,” she told The Daily Beast via text message. “My post today was to show my confidence in the system, in our government, and I hope everyone can at least feel more at ease knowing I went through the process!”
Upon learning of the controversy during a Sunday press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to see it Griffith’s way.
“Doesn’t sound like someone who should’ve gotten vaccinated to me,” said de Blasio.
“I don’t think someone who shows up and says, ‘Hey, I’m a SoulCycle instructor should have qualified unless there’s some other factor there,” said de Blasio with a laugh. “That should have been caught in the application process.”
Dr. Dave Chokshi, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health, added that anyone who shows up to a testing site and does not meet eligibility requirements should be turned away — and insisted that eligibility is being checked.
“Every person must attest to their eligibility on the application,” he said. “Once they’re actually at the site, they have to be able to prove their eligibility with some sort of documentation.”
Griffith told The Daily Beast that she deleted the Instagram post due to negative responses, but continued to defend her actions.
“I hate controversy,” she said. “It saddens me that people go so dark and mean, I’m really just trying to do the right thing and be safe.”