BOSTON — In an effort to combat contributing factors like vaccine hesitancy and lack of access due to transportation, Whittier Street Health Center started the delivery of mobile-vaccination clinics to faith-based institutions in high-risk communities.
Boston 25 News spoke with retired teacher, Nasaleem Smith, who worked hard to get the COVID-19 vaccine for one simple reason.
“So I can stay alive and help other people to stay alive. I want to live. I’m 65 years old and I’ve given my life to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ children,“ Smith said.
The mobile clinics are set to operate from March 10 through March 22. There will be seven churches in total that will receive 150 doses each of the Moderna vaccine.
“Whittier requires sufficient space for three vaccinators, two registration clerks and two health ambassadors. Our goal is to administer 25 vaccines per hour to spread out the schedule, avoid crowding and prevent long waiting periods,” said Frederica M. Williams, the president and CEO of Whitter Street Health Center.
”All of our clinics are dependent on us having access to the vaccines, and we are doing everything possible to ensure we are fully stocked. Once the Whitter team has completed the first doses, we will move the mobile clinics to public housing developments where we currently provide care and then return to the faith-based sites in April for the second doses,” Williams said.
According to the latest Massachusetts health department data, as of March 4, just over 5% of Blacks and 4% of Latinx people in the Bay State have been fully vaccinated. Compare that to over 67% of white residents.
“The role of the church is to save lives,” said Rev. Miniard Culpepper of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
Even Pastor Miniard Culpepper was hesitant before his shot. Then he put his faith in the staff at Whittier who held focus groups for clergy in the community.
“Early on I said I wasn’t gonna get vaccinated. I was skeptical of vaccines when the government is involved,“ Culpepper said.
Boston 25 News also spoke with a heating and plumbing contractor, Ed Crowley, who said he’s even lost family and clients to the virus. But he and another resident Fredrick Allen were in line to get the vaccine today only because it was at the church.
”It’s probably the only way I’m going to get it, I’m going to probably go with it because Reverend Culpepper is a champion in the community, and I went to school with him. So I’m gonna be with the church and with him,” Crowley said.
“The community is really in trouble. But the way to help it is to keep getting shots,” Allen said.
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