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Vaccine booster: First lady visits ABQ medical clinic

First lady Jill Biden stands next to Maria Corral, who was about to get vaccinated on Wednesday. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Ray Jaramillo was in the observation area at a South Valley medical center on Wednesday, after getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot, when in walked a bevy of television cameras, Secret Service agents, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and first lady Jill Biden.

He admitted he was a bit starstruck when Biden elbow bumped him and spoke briefly.

“She was so gracious. She came up and asked me, ‘What was your name, again?’ ” Jaramillo said. “It was a great thing, to be around people you believe in and trust.”

Biden visited First Choice Community Healthcare, South Valley Medical Center, a nonprofit federally qualified health center, shortly after she arrived in Albuquerque on Wednesday afternoon. Albuquerque was the first leg on a three-day tour that will take her on to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona on Thursday and Friday.

It was the second visit to central New Mexico by a prominent spouse in a little over a month. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, visited the Albuquerque area in March during a trip that also included a stop at a vaccination clinic.

On Wednesday, Biden was greeted on the tarmac at Albuquerque International Sunport by Lujan Grisham, Mayor Tim Keller, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández and others before heading to the medical center in the South Valley, where Moderna vaccines were being distributed.

A large motorcade that included Albuquerque and State Police officers blocked traffic throughout the South Valley to escort Biden to the medical center, where dozens of people gathered in the parking lot to try to catch a glimpse of her arrival.

Dr. Will Kaufman, the medical director, gave Biden and Lujan Grisham a tour of the facility.

Maria Corral was one of the patients getting vaccinated – and she was a little uneasy about it – then in walked the governor and first lady just as she was ready to get jabbed in the arm.

“(Biden) asked me if I was nervous, and I say, ‘Yeah,’ and she (tapped me on my shoulder) and said, ‘You’re OK, you’re OK,’ ” Corral said.

Biden stood by Corral as she received the injection.

“I can’t look either. Look at me,” Biden told her. “It doesn’t hurt. Really. It’s mostly in your head.”

Biden and Lujan Grisham spent a few minutes passing out stickers and buttons promoting the vaccine.

“Tell all your friends to come,” said the governor, while thanking people for getting shots.

Jocelyn Galvez, 18, and her mother, Viviana Galvez, got their COVID vaccines while the first lady was touring the facility. They each shared a brief conversation with Biden.

“It felt acknowledging,” Jocelyn said. “New Mexico doesn’t receive that much attention and to see the first lady show up when I was getting my vaccine, it was intense and I felt acknowledged.”

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