BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Dr. Raul Vazquez is requiring all employees of GBUAHN and Urban Family Practice receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He says that means more than 200 individuals will receive the vaccine, out of which about 150 already have.
"Am I right to do it? I don't know. But at this point I'd rather keep people alive and be judged later," Dr. Vazquez said.
Dr. Vazquez says he and his wife were the first to receive the shot, sharing their experience with others to build confidence in the vaccine.
"Yesterday we did 50 people and we're all still here. Today we plan to do 100 people and with that we'll have 75% of the population at least in our group [vaccinated]," Dr. Vazquez said.
Last month, 40% of Latinos and 50% of Black respondents told the Pew Research Center they will probably or definitely not take the vaccine. Dr. Vazquez primarily serves that population.
"In the black and brown community there's a lot of mistrust. I'm here to tell you I took it," Dr. Vazquez said.
Dr. Vazquez said as healthcare workers, his employees need to set an example by sharing their experiences.
"It was very easy and not painful at all. The only reaction I had was a little pain at the end of the day like a flu shot. Other than that, very simple and very easy," said Ivan Agosto, COO of GBUHAN.
"Yesterday we did 50 people and we're all still here. Today we plan to do 100 people and with that we'll have 75% of the population at least within our group," Dr. Vazquez said.
He said only about 15-20 employees are still unsure whether or not they will take the vaccine. When he first made the decision to require all employees to get vaccinated, he said he hosted a town hall to address employees concerns. He said if an employee does not want to take the vaccine, GBUAHN and Urban Family Practice are not the place for them to work.
"My goal was to protect the staff all this time. Now, we have something that will protect you," Dr. Vazquez said.
Dr. Vazquez said he knows this decision is controversial, but it's for the good of the community.
"Somebody has to take the initiative. At this point, I've been here for 30 years. The things I do out of my heart to help the community. I think this is the time to step up and do this. I know people aren't going to be happy with me but it is what it is," Dr. Vazquez said.