‘I did it’: Once hesitant about the vaccine, locals explain why they got the shot Wednesday

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — “I did it,” proclaimed Mike Schmidt on Wednesday after getting his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am trusting in science,” the Rochester native said.

Schmidt was one of many people who showed up at a pop-up vaccine clinic at the RTS Transit Center. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday Trillium Health gave out COVID-19 vaccines.

If you received a shot at the pop-up, you would get a $50 gift card. The money helped push some vaccine skeptics to get the shot, but so did many families.

“I was worried about my family more than me. My father’s 81, he’s got his roofing business, and you know, my brother just had a mini stroke, it’s been… thinking about my family more than myself,” Schmidt said.

Adniel Cruz, who is from Rochester, also showed up to get the shot Wednesday. He said he pushed it off because he was worried about side effects, but his mom changed his mind.

“I know my mom took Johnson & Johnson and she said she didn’t feel no symptoms whatsoever, so I said I am going to go with that and I felt safe, I felt safe,” Cruz said. “When she went through it, it was like a flu-like symptoms and not everybody get them, so I was like I might as well get it.”

Cruz said he works with many other people and wanted to feel safe. He also is excited he will now be able to do more things because he’s vaccinated.

“Now with this card, I’m going to be able to go into certain stores that I wasn’t able to go to before I was vaccinated, so that’s always a good thing,” Cruz said. “I got peace of mind. I feel like I can breathe, like pressure is released off my shoulders. I feel like I can maneuver a little bit more.”

This isn’t the first time Trillium Health has held a vaccine pop-up at the RTS Transit Center. Sean Owen, a Nurse Practitioner, says they have been successful in the past, even without money incentives.

“I think part of the reason we continue to have really good turnout is because of the gift cards, and so I think that incentive maybe helps tip the scales for people that are ambivalent about whether or not to get the vaccine. We are still encountering people that that’s not enough to change their mind, but it’s popular,” Owen said. “People, even people who haven’t been vaccinated already, will let their friends or families know about this incentive.”

The RTS center is one of the zip codes with the lowest vaccine rates in Monroe County, which Owen says is important. It also is an easy way for people to get the shot, without making an appointment.

“Every time we are here, we encounter a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated. They haven’t had the time or the means to get to some of these sites, so there’s still a lot of people who are not vaccinated, and so when encounter them here, they are like, ‘I have 20 minutes, I can get vaccinated right now,’ and we register them, we give them the shot, they wait for 15 minutes so we can monitor them for side effects,” Owen explained.

Although the vaccines have been available for months, Owen says there are still a lot of people who haven’t been vaccinated.

News 8’s Ally Peters asked him why. Owen said there’s some misinformation going around and there’s people who have a general fear of vaccines, but he said one of the biggest reasons is because people don’t understand it’s free.

“People in this country, if you tell them, ‘Ok, the vaccine, you can go to your doctor’s office, you can go to the hospital, you can go to this site in the City where they are giving out free vaccines…people may not necessarily believe that it’s free. They may have a worry that I am going to get the vaccine and then maybe I am going to get a bill from my insurance company later on,” Owen said.

If you’re interested in getting your vaccine, the clinic at the RTS Transit Center will be going on until 4 p.m. Wednesday. The location of the center is 60 St. Paul Street in Rochester.

People who get vaccinated will receive either a $50 gift card for the one dose J&J vaccine, or two $25 gift cards for the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (one $25 gift card will be distributed for each dose at the time of vaccination).

The gift cards were obtained through a grant funded by the Community Health Care Association of New York State.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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