NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A COVID-19 vaccine site in Harlem got a high-profile visit on Sunday, as New York continues to administer doses.

First lady Dr. Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci stopped by the Abyssinian Baptist Church to thank workers. It was part of a messaging campaign to meet the White House goal of getting at least one shot into the arms of 70% of Americans by July 4, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.

READ MORE: AP Source: Mets Add CF Marte With $78 Million, 4-Year Deal

Jill Biden and Fauci, the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, made the rounds at the church’s clinic on West 138th Street.


Many of the more than a dozen people getting vaccinated were teenagers, except a 92-year-old woman. All were African-American.

“People in this community trust this church and trust the people in the church and that is how we are going to do it, you know, through the faith,” Jill Biden said.

“This is a historic place that I have known since I was a child, being a New Yorker, myself,” Fauci said. “We’re going to end this outbreak for absolutely certain and the vehicle to ending it is vaccination.”

But across the street there was evidence of skepticism. Protesters yelled things like “Fire Fauci” and “We are not lab rats.”

Almost 45% of New York City residents are fully vaccinated, and the demographic breakdown shows fewer Black and Hispanic residents have been fully vaccinated than other groups.

READ MORE: 2 Islanders Games Postponed Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Dr. Harlem Gunness of St. John’s University explained why.

“We know that historically communities of color, specifically African-American as well as Latino and American Indians, they’ve had really bad experiences by the federal government and research institutions. There needs to be really more concerted efforts to [get] in these communities, get them to understand the vaccine. It’s not as simple as, you know, let’s go online,” Gunness said.

Back in January, Abysinnian was one of the first churches to distribute the vaccine. So far, it has vaccinated more than 12,000 people.

“Everybody I know is around my age, so we are going to get it or be in the hospital,” one person said.

“I feel like this is kind of a bit of a science experiment, but, again, I think the risk of not getting the vaccine outweighs whatever the potential downside could be from 10, 15, 20 years from now,” Harlem resident Michelle Johnson said.

Most of the people getting vaccinated at the church on Sunday said they did not know the White House guests would be coming, and that they were already planning to get vaccinated.

The clinic opens again on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

MORE NEWS: Stolen French Bulldog Found Safe On Long Island, Burglary Investigation Continues

Starting Monday, the state is expanding its Vax and Scratch Program at 10 vaccination sites for another week. People 18 and up who get vaccinated will receive a lottery scratch off ticket for a chance to win $5 million.