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Health Team

Local churches offer COVID vaccines to low-income, underserved communities

Posted February 4, 2021 6:07 a.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2021 6:52 p.m. EST

— One of the biggest battles in the vaccine distribution model has been making sure lower income, under-served communities are getting access to the vaccine.

Several counties are working on a plan to make that happen by partnering with faith leaders.

Churches are being asked to step up and help in one of the most important ways.

Dr. Rasheeda Monroe, the medical director of Primary Care Pediatrics at WakeMed has taken on a role organizing 'strike team's to go into churches in Wake County and distribute the vaccine.

Macedonia New Life is one 17 churches in Southeast Raleigh that will receive 100 doses of the vaccine Saturday.

"If anybody knows how to bring the people together in community, it is the church," said Pastor Joe Stevenson of Macedonia New Life Church.

He said senior citizens in his congregation eagerly signed up to receive it.

"We made the call to the community and the community responded because people really want, you know, they want hope," said Stevenson.

Other counties are also using churches as distribution sites.

"There has been a push to vaccinate people in our community, specifically African American and Latinx populations," said Jonathan Barrett of UNC.

UNC Rex started a mobile vaccine clinic at a church in Johnston County this week and hopes to vaccinate 100 people per day.

"The best thing I see through this project is when the patient leaves the site with a smile on their face," said Barrett. "And we see that just about every time."

Lack of access and fear are the two major barriers for marginalized communities when it comes to getting the vaccine.

Wake County leaders believe churches can help break down these barriers.​

More than 950,000 people have already received their first vaccine dose of a coronavirus vaccine across North Carolina, or about 7% of the population. Around 2% of North Carolinians are now fully vaccinated.

Vaccines are available for health care workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities. Vaccines are also available for senior citizens 65 and older.

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