Debates about the COVID-19 vaccine are pretty common place these days at Blaze Barbershop in New Britain, but owner Johnny Turner is hoping that in between cuts and shape-ups, he can help to change the opinion of some of the men who sit in his chair… to save their lives.
“I feel like it’s a collective effort. If we’re going to eradicate this virus, it’s going to take a little bit of everyone to get rid of it,” said Turner, who has operated his shop on West Main Street for 22 years.
Turner is vaccinated and hoping some of his clients, most of whom are African American, will join him next weekend when the shop hosts a vaccine clinic, as part of the #GetVaccinatedCT campaign.
The campaign, in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, aims to stop the spread of misinformation and get people in the state’s urban centers protected against the virus.
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As a part of the #GetVaccinatedCT campaign, nearly 100 community vaccine clinics at places like hair salons, food pantries and parking lots have already taken place.
They’ve also trained “trusted messengers” – people in the community - to help spread the word and break down some of the barriers standing between residents and the shots.
Veronica DeLandro is a longtime community engagement advisor who’s helping to lead the campaign.
“If there's someone in my community, there's someone in my neighborhood, there's someone on my block that I know that I trust that is an advocate and a champion, for ensuring that the community is safe and healthy, I'm going to listen to that person 10 times more than the person that just dis-shares information from, you know, out of the blue,” said DeLandro.
Back at Blaze, the team is hoping that they’ll be among those trusted messengers and help to make an important change in the community.
“It’s about life. It’s not always about you. It’s about the people around you,” said Turner.
The vaccine clinic at Blaze Barbershop will take place next Saturday, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anybody who gets vaccinated or receives a booster shot will get a free haircut paid for by the state.