Why now? News10NBC asks former vaccine skeptics at ‘Shots At The Shop’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation cites three main reasons people who’ve been hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine are changing their minds: Perceived safety, hearing from friends and family, and potential limitations on certain activities.

News10NBC stopped by a neighborhood clinic on Monday to find out what’s prompting folks here to roll up their sleeves.

We visited New Creation Barbershop on Jefferson Avenue, which is owned by City Council Member Willie Lightfoot, where he held a vaccine clinic of his own. While there, people told News10NBC they trust the vaccine now, because they believe in its safety record.

It’s the latest vaccine pop-up site, and it’s called the "Shots At The Shop" initiative. Barbershops such as New Creations are joining beauty salons to help increase vaccination rates in many underserved communities.

Mason Lewis Jr. is one of many former vaccine skeptics who came in to get their vaccine.

"I’ve been putting it off for a while," Lewis said. "I watch the news a lot and it’s getting worse, and worse, and said now it’s time before I get it."

Ijustice Allah added, "I was skeptical, but I talked to a few people. Few elders you know. I went for counseling, and it kind of gave me a clear picture."

Before using his business to provide vaccines, Lightfoot received some training through the University of Maryland. Lightfoot said he’s selling information, and education, not necessarily vaccination.

"We want people to make an informed decision around being vaccinated and protecting themselves, and community, and their circle," Lightfoot said.

He also explained why he choose to help in this way.

"The barbershop is a very safe haven for a lot of people, and so we wanted to have it in a place where people are comfortable, and confident, and know that again I’m telling folks that I’m leading by example," Lightfoot said. "I’ve had this vaccination. I have the card to prove it, and I would not ask anyone to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do myself."

Lightfoot’s own barbers, such as Rodney Johnson, are getting their shots too.

"We was keeping up on the updates from the FDA, making sure how close they can get to the approval, and seemed like so far so good, and a majority of my customers have it so it’s better to be safe than sorry," Johnson said.

The clinic offered the Moderna vaccine, and Lightfoot said he will try to hold more clinics in the future. Anyone between the ages of 12 and 18 will get the Pfizer vaccine. Monroe County will try to schedule those vaccines near barbershops and beauty salons as well.