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Gov. Greg Abbott received the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday in Austin, saying he wanted to show Texans how "safe and easy" it is.
"I will never ask any Texan to do something that I’m not willing to do myself," Abbott said moments before getting vaccinated at a televised event at Ascension Seton Medical Center.
After getting the injection in his left arm — a process that took just over a minute — Abbott said he didn't "feel a thing," thanked his nurse and threw his hands up.
"It's that easy," he told reporters.
Abbott is the latest elected official to get vaccinated amid some criticism that the powerful are skipping the line for a vaccine that is otherwise being prioritized for health care workers for now. Abbott defended his decision to receive the vaccine Tuesday, saying he spoke the previous day with Alex Azar, the U.S. health and human services secretary, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"They said it's important for governors to step up and be examples in their community," Abbott said.
Abbott said he especially wanted to promote the vaccine in light of polls that show Texans are “apprehensive” about it. An October poll from the University of Texas and Texas Tribune found that only 42% of the state’s voters would try to get the vaccine if it became available at a low cost.
Abbott was accompanied by Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, who was also vaccinated.
Health groups lauded Abbott's decision to be publicly vaccinated, saying his leadership is needed to instill confidence in the vaccine.
“People need to see we can make Texas strong against the coronavirus if we all take these preventive measures to protect ourselves and others. The governor is leading by example by getting the shot,” the Texas Medical Association said in a statement on Monday.
Texas is set to receive 1.4 million total vaccine doses by the end of the month. Vaccines began arriving in Texas last week, and health care workers began receiving injections immediately.
The state previously outlined that “first tier” recipients of the vaccine include hospital-based workers who have direct contact with patients, staff of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities who work directly with residents, home health aides who manage “vulnerable and high-risk” patients and emergency medical service providers such as paramedics and ambulance drivers.
The “second tier” of health care workers who were also prioritized by the state to for vaccinations include those who interact with patients in outpatient settings such as doctors’ offices, workers in freestanding emergency rooms and urgent care clinics, community pharmacy workers, public health workers who administer COVID-19 tests, school nurses and mortuary workers such as medical examiners and embalmers.
Disclosure: The Texas Medical Association has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.