After receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine at UT Southwestern on Thursday afternoon, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson told reporters who hopes it serves as an example to others who may be skeptical about the shot.
"I feel very safe taking it myself which is why I wanted to do this publicly," Johnson said outside of UT Southwestern.
Due to their policies, reporters and photographers were not allowed inside the building. The mayor's office and UT Southwestern provided pictures and video of him getting the vaccine in his left arm.
Johnson said he qualifies for the vaccine and is in group 1B, but didn't divulge his personal medical history.
Currently those eligible for the vaccine are frontline workers, those over the age of 65 and people over 16 who have certain underlying health conditions.
It's no secret communities of color including Blacks and Latinos have been hit hard by the pandemic.
"I want to see shots in arms, I want to see mass vaccinations happening like at Fair Park, I want to see equitable distribution in communities that have struggled," Johnson said.
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The mayor referenced a Pew Research Center poll from December which showed that less than half of Black respondents, 42%, planned to get vaccinated despite disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color. Comparatively speaking, the poll said 63% of Hispanic and 61% of White adults planned to get immunized.
The lack of trust stems from the past and experiment conductions on Blacks.
"It has some people hesitant to take this vaccine, I understand the hesitance, but I want to overcome it," Johnson said.
He said more vaccination sites are coming.
On Thursday the Department of State Health Services announced that next week the state will direct most of the COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government to large providers who can vaccinate more than 100,000 people.
Those large hubs will be announced later this week, according to the state.
Dallas County will operate a 'mega' COVID-19 vaccination site at Fair Park.
They plan to vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day.
People must register in advance, and it's only for people who fall into phase 1A and 1B.
Texas Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) held a Zoom meeting on Thursday with reporters talking about their efforts to get more vaccinations.
He said they're starting to see more places get the approval to distribute the vaccine.
He said he also received the vaccine and said he wants to be an example for others, especially people in minorities of color that have been hit hard.
"We want to make certain that they understand that we're confident in the science behind it and also that we would encourage people to take it," West said.
On Twitter Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) posted a letter she and 30 other lawmakers from across the state wrote to Gov. Greg Abbott and to Dr. Hellerstedt with DSHS asking for better distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
"I've received calls from people frustrated & confused by the vaccination rollout in Texas," said Goodwin via Twitter about why she wrote the letter. "We need better information about how vaccine prioritization and distribution decisions are being made."
She and other lawmakers who signed the document believe people who can't work from home, like teachers and grocery store workers, should be prioritized for getting the vaccine.