Mayor Sylvester Turner announces he will get COVID-19 vaccine next week

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday morning he will join thousands of other health care workers in getting the COVID-19 vaccine next week.

When discussing the importance of the vaccine with a fellow colleague who expressed no interest in getting the shot, Turner was asked when he was getting it. He said he is scheduled to receive the shot next Monday.

Mayor Turner said his response made a difference.

"She said, 'Well, when you take it, mayor, then I'll be willing to take it,'" he said of his conversation with the colleague.

Turner added that woman isn't the only person he's come across who has shown uncertainty in the vaccine.

"I've run into a number of people in this city, African Americans, Hispanics, that are still very reluctant to take this vaccine," said Turner. "Almost every single day when I'm giving out the numbers of the people that have been impacted by this, in almost all of those reports, they are people of color."

While there are those who are reluctant, some Texas and local elected officials, representing some of the state's communities hardest hit by the virus, received the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning at UTHealth.

The elected officials included State Senator Borris Miles, State Representative Senfronia Thompson and others.

"Although African Americans historically have their suspicions of medical treatment with their government, and they have the right to have those suspicions, but in this particular case, there are no statistics in this case that can justify us not getting the vaccine," said Senator Miles at the press conference.

State Rep. Thompson also listed five reasons why she's getting the vaccine.

"Number one, I'm an African America. Number two, I'm female. Number three, I'm 81. Number four, I want to encourage my constituents that fall not only in my age group but within my ethnicity to be encouraged to take the vaccine. And fifthly, I'm taking it because the mayor agreed to give us all vaccines."

Thompson said she lost her sister to COVID-19 this year.

"I can't tell you how heartbreaking it is to not to be able to go see a person that's in the hospital on a ventilator and not have those last moments with them," she said.

Thompson told the city during the press conference not to be mistaken, though. She said her willingness to get the vaccine does not mean she does not have reservations.

"But I'm weighing the impact of the pandemic against the hopeful impact of this vaccine to help to eradicate and control this pandemic," she said.

As thousands of health workers and first responders continue to get the COVID-19 vaccine, there's a growing desire to understand how the rest of the public may finally get vaccinated.

"I am happy to say that over 60% of those frontline health care workers across the state of Texas have been vaccinated," said UT System Executive Vice Chancellor John Zerwas.

As of Monday, health care officials at Memorial Hermann transitioned into Phase 1B of the Texas Vaccine Allocation Guiding Principles, allowing them to treat more people who weren't a priority during Phase 1A.

The phase priority expands to anyone over the age of 65 and to people with at least one chronic medical condition.

SEE RELATED STORY: Memorial Hermann moves to 2nd phase in COVID-19 vaccinations this week
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