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Pro-Vaccine Senator Dies After Receiving Flu Shot
The 47 year old pro-vaccine senator was healthy before the influenza vaccine, according to doctors. He was an advocate for flu shots, and had been promoting a local flu shot clinic on Twitter moments before his death.
José Peralta was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, NY after becoming disoriented following a two-week illness, which he said began after receiving the flu shot.
reports: Mr. Peralta, a Democrat, lost his re-election bid in September after serving eight years in the State Senate representing neighborhoods in Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst and portions of Woodside and Astoria.
A member of a Democratic group that caucused with Republicans, Mr. Peralta was defeated by Jessica Ramos, an insurgent from his own party riding a progressive wave. He was set to leave office at the end of December.
Mr. Peralta was first elected to the State Senate in 2010 in a special election, defeating Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled from the Senate after being convicted of assaulting his companion.
As a lawmaker, Mr. Peralta was a champion of the Dream Act, legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to qualify for college tuition assistance. He also introduced bills to legalize hoverboards in the city and to extend the time that speed cameras are used in school zones.
Mr. Peralta, a resident of Queens for three decades, began his political career there as a community liaison to the State Assembly, the legislature’s lower house. He went on to win a seat in that body and served there for eight years.
Mr. Peralta’s campaign to become Queens borough president was derailed in 2013 when he was recorded by a state legislator in her role as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The legislator, Shirley L. Huntley, was under investigation for corruption and hoped that cooperating with the F.B.I. by recording public officials whom she suspected were corrupt would help her case.
Mr. Peralta was not charged or accused of wrongdoing.
José Rafael Peralta was born on Nov. 10, 1971, in New York City to parents who had emigrated from the Dominican Republic. He attended public schools in Queens and graduated from Queens College, where he studied psychology and sociology and served as student body president.
Though he had been ill for at least two weeks, he had been reluctant to visit a doctor, according to Chris Sosa, his director of communications. After much prodding, he finally went for an exam recently, and he had a follow-up scheduled for December.
“It was like pulling teeth to get him to talk about not feeling well,” Mr. Sosa said. “He just thought he was having symptoms related to getting the flu shot.”
Mr. Peralta was at home with his family on Wednesday night when he became disoriented. He was taken to the Elmhurst hospital and died there at 9:23 p.m., Mr. Sosa said.
As news of the death began to spread on Thursday morning, his colleagues took to Twitter. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called him “a dedicated public servant” and a “relentless advocate” for Queens.
Adriano D. Espaillat, who was the first Dominican-American elected to Congress, called Mr. Peralta a “loving husband & brother who adored and protected his family.”
And Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter: “Jose Peralta was a proud son of Queens and the Dominican Republic. He worked his way up from the grass roots, with heart and tenacity.”
Mr. Peralta lost the Democratic primary for re-election to Ms. Ramos by 10 percentage points. She went on to capture the seat in the general election.
Mr. Peralta’s defeat was fueled by anger against his participation in the Independent Democratic Conference, the group of breakaway Democrats who caucused with Republicans, effectively giving Republicans control of the Senate and preventing the passage of legislation mandating stricter gun control laws and protections for women’s reproductive rights.
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