Local church hosts minority COVID-19 vaccination clinic

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 8:03 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A recent study by the Florida Department of Health showed more than 36,000 Bay County residents being vaccinated. About 2,200 are black and race is unknown in about 5,700 cases.

“In the other locations that we’ve gone to, we have seen less African Americans coming out to those vaccine events,” Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Clinical Transform Specialist Sarah Marler said.

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Medical is finding ways to change that.

“We wanted to bring a vaccine event to them and make them feel like they had a valiant effort in helping fight the pandemic,” Marler said.

On Friday, Ascension teamed up with Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Panama City to help vaccinate more local African Americans.

“I think it takes away any stereotypes or any apprehensions that individuals might have that there is some kind of conspiracy in the community as it relates to the vaccine. That hopefully, they find this as a safe place, a safe haven, a place where they can come and feel comfortable,” Senior Pastor with Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Dr. Jesse Nelson said.

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay Medical has vaccinated nearly 12,000 people since February. At this clinic, they added 200 more to that number.

One being Panama City resident Deatrice Nelson. Nelson said knowing the clinic was just down the street, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“A dear friend of mine sent me a text message and said that it was here and available and I said let’s go do it. So here I am,” Nelson said.

Church officials said they’re glad to see folks coming in for the shot who otherwise maybe wouldn’t.

“Knowing that this is something that the community needs and that we’re able to be a part in supporting what the community needs. I’m excited about it,” Dr. Nelson said.

And as long as there is a need in our community, Dr. Nelson said he wants to help fill it. Church officials said they’re working to be a site for future vaccinations, but no dates are set as of now.

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