Leading by example to encourage Houstonians to protect their health during the global pandemic, Mayor Sylvester Turner rolled up his sleeve to get a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination Monday afternoon.

The mayor was joined by a diverse group of community members, health care personnel, and essential frontline workers. The doses were given by trained Houston Health Department staff to the mayor and others who are at least 65 and older, or age 18 and older with at least one chronic medical condition putting them at increased risk of severe illness and death.

“I want everyone to know, especially people of color in this diverse community, that this is not the Tuskegee Project,” said Mayor Turner. “This is not the time for people of color to stay away from the vaccine.”

Police Chief Art Acevedo, Fire Chief Sam Pena, Council Members Amy Peck, Michael Kubosh, Letitia Plummer, David Robinson and Judge R.K. Sandhill, Mary Ramos, William A. Lawson, Susannah Wong, Zhengyi Wu, and several frontline city workers also received the vaccine.

Ramos said she wanted to publicly get the vaccine to send a message to the Hispanic community. “I am asking all my people to take the vaccine. I just took it, and it does not hurt,” said Ramos. “You have a better chance of surviving this pandemic if you take the vaccine. If you care about your family, do it,”

Darryl Flood, a Houston Public Works maintenance employee, also got the vaccine Monday. “I feel good, and I encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated.”

Also on Monday, the Houston Health Department launched an online registration portal allowing Houstonians at the highest risk of coronavirus disease to schedule appointments to receive free COVID-19 vaccinations.

While appointments are full for the rest of the month, Mayor Turner said he soon plans to announce a vaccination mega-site. A larger site would allow the health department to increase the number of daily vaccinations.

“We know there are people reluctant to get the vaccine in certain communities,” said Mayor Turner. “But there is a lot of demand. Our goal is  to open more sites as we get increased vaccine supply.”