Faith, health leaders help minorities access COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 19:04:14-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - — As more than 14,000 people sit on the waiting list for a coronavirus vaccine, local leaders are stepping up to help protect those in the most under-served areas in our community.

More than 120 seniors at Bond Community Health received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday. Richard Hartsfield said he's grateful to get the shot at a time when so many people are still waiting.

"I'm fortunate to be able to get it but I think the logistics of the government and the state and the county has been going through has been somewhat misplanned," said Hartsfield.

This comes as the Leon County Health Department is still working to fulfill the needs of their patients.

New appointments with DOH are paused while the county's emergency management department works out a new phone system, which will call or text people when their appointments are ready.

It will be similar to the messages and calls sent to people when there's a severe weather threat.

"We normally communicate with the public," said EMA Director Kevin Peters. "To help the health department get this message out, for something they don't normally do, they don't normally communicate at this large scale with the public, so we're able to bring our tools to help them with their mission."

In the meantime, a COVID-19 task force led by Pastor RB Holmes is stepping up to help. The group will be hosting a vaccine clinic at Bethel AME Church Sunday. It's part of Gov. Ron DeSantis' initiative to give minorities vaccine access.

"Most importantly, that we have a plan," said Project Manager Elaine Bryant." That we can execute and actually go out into neighborhoods and bring in mobile units in order to give the vaccine and then educate so people know the science for this vaccine is real."

Bethel AME is no longer accepting any more appointments for the event since supplies are limited. Bryant hopes the turnout helps convinces more people to get the added protection.

"There's a historical distrust with African-Americans and vaccines," said Bryant. "We recognize that the vaccine can hopefully send that curb down all across America and all across the world."

Bond Community Health said they will be accepting appointments for future vaccination clinic dates if you're a patient at the health center already. You can contact them at (850) 576-4073.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering