Gov. Ned Lamont received his first COVID-19 vaccination shot at Connecticut's largest predominantly Black church on Tuesday. He and several prominent Black elected officials and religious leaders went to a vaccination clinic at The First Cathedral church in Bloomfield.
Under state rules, the governor became eligible for the shot last week when vaccinations opened up to people 65 and older. Lamont is 67.
He gave a thumbs-up gesture as a clinician injected him with a dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
"That's easy. Nothing to be afraid of," he said after getting the shot.
Earlier, Lamont held a news conference with Black political, religious, and medical community leaders including state Chief Justice Richard Robinson, state Treasurer Shawn Wooden, state Rep. Bobby Gibson and Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr. of The First Cathedral, which is operating the clinic in partnership with Trinity Health of New England.
They tried to reassure people that the vaccine is safe and pleaded with them to get shots, amid skepticism of the vaccine and a long-held distrust in the medical community by many Black and Latino residents.
"In order for us to reach population immunity, we need to have about 75% of the population to get vaccinations. They cannot do it without people of color," Robinson said. "There are reasons for African Americans to distrust, but there are also reasons for African Americans to trust."
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A health care worker gives a shot of COVID-19 vaccine to Gov. Ned Lamont at a vaccination site in Bloomfield, Conn., Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)(Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)
Bailey, the senior pastor at The First Cathedral, urged people to sign up to get vaccinated.
"Through vaccinations, polio, mumps, measles, chickenpox, flu, shingles, and other epidemics have been managed," Bailey said. "Now God has provided us this vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic. I suggest that you be vaccinated as I have and put your faith and confidence in God. Get vaccinated."
Lamont said he was "proud to partner" with religious leaders to help get the vaccine to Connecticut residents.
"Leaders in our houses of worship in every community are a critical part of ensuring everyone knows the vaccine is safe, and we are making sure every resident of our state has free access to the vaccine regardless of insurance availability or documentation status," the governor said in a statement. "I look forward to visiting more vaccination clinics, particularly at houses of worship."
The governor's office said that 47 members of the church signed up in advance to get vaccinated on Tuesday.
Connecticut residents can find vaccination sites and book appointments either online at ct.gov/covidvaccine or by phone at 877-918-2224.
With The Associated Press