By Thera Martin
The COVID-19 vaccination effort is still ongoing across the United States. However, reports from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that people seeking the shots have slowed down significantly. In the last three weeks, the COVID-19 vaccine has become available to every adult in the United States, but now some groups of people are still hesitant about getting the shot or 100% decided whether they will not seek out the vaccine at all, slowing down the process.
“That kind of information is very concerning to us as members of the Black clergy,”said Rev. Robert Collier, president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, (BCPV). “We believe that the scientists and medical doctors have it right. The COVID-19 vaccine, if the majority of Americans get the shots, will slow this pandemic down greatly and that’s what we want. The thought came to us months ago that we’d get to this point in America where vaccine locations would suddenly no longer have long lines and waiting periods, because the last major group of adults who need to get the vaccination are dragging their feet.”
“Black Clergy started meeting with Gateway Health months ago, and fortunately with their support and that of Rite Aid, we devised a plan to make it as easy as possible for citizens to get the vaccine,” Collier continued. “We are pleased to be partnering with Gateway Health and Rite Aid to bring fifteen COVID-19 vaccination clinics, right into the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, at pre-identified churches.”
The Black Clergy vaccination clinics begin on May 18 (Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania) and will conclude on July 24.”
Marvetta Coleman, senior community engagement specialist with Gateway Health, was enthusiastic in her support of the Black Clergy’s program and the leadership role they are playing in the community with this initiative. “We believe in caring for the whole person, and providing members of Gateway Health, along with the entire community, with a path to getting their vaccination is one of the most important investments we are making to help to stem the spread of the coronavirus and overcome the pandemic,” Coleman said.
“The idea is to make this opportunity as seamless as possible,” Rev. Jay Broadnax, chairman of the Health Committee for BCPV, said. “That’s why we’re using the appointment requirement. We ask that no one call the individual churches about getting scheduled for a vaccine. The vaccines we will offer will be for people ages 18 and up.”
Dr. Cheryl Oakman, one of the co-chairs of the Physical and Mental Health COVID Response Committee for the Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., said this is precisely the type of work for which Deltas sign up as volunteers.
“Delta Sigma Theta is focused on supporting the underserved, helping to increase awareness and education on issues, and stimulating participation in social action,” she said. “Two of our program focus areas are physical and mental health and political awareness. We created our COVID-19 response work in mid-February in an effort to help educate the Philadelphia Black community and address hesitancy and also help ensure equitable access to the vaccine.”
“We’ve partnered with the city of Philadelphia, with the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and a few other community-based organizations,” Oakman continued. “We’re pleased to serve further, and potentially make a major impact, working with the Black Clergy organization. Through working with the Black Clergy on scheduling the appointments for the fifteen churches, we can help to provide vaccination access to over fifteen hundred people.”
Medical staff from Rite Aid will administer the vaccine.
To schedule an appointment, call (877) 227-8829 or email your name, phone number and pre-identified church closest to you to: [email protected] Church sites can be viewed on the Black Clergy’s Facebook page (@blackclergyphilly). You will then be scheduled for one of the two-dose clinics taking place at churches in Philadelphia, Delaware or Montgomery counties.
All clinic locations will operate between the hours of 10:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m. The first COVID-19 vaccination clinics will launch the week of May 17, with clinics at Mt. Pisgah AME Church (May 18), Galilee Baptist Church (May 19), Open Door Mission True Light Church (May 20) and St. Paul AME Zion Church in Media (May 21).
Second dose appointments will be scheduled on-site following the first dose appointment. They will take place at Mount Pisgah A.M.E. Church at 428 N. 41st Street on May 18. Please consult the complete list of vaccine clinic locations for more details.