Group works to close the gap of vaccinations in marginalized communities as variant concern grows

Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — On Sunday, Sycamore Hill Baptist Church opened its doors for in-person service for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

They didn’t just have church patrons in attendance. The church paired their Sunday service with a free vaccine clinic hosted by Old North State Medical Society. The goal was to help vaccinate under-served and marginzalized communities.

This comes as concern grows over new COVID-19 variants such as Delta and Gamma.

Dr. Gwendolyn Knuckles with Carolina Clinic for Health and Wellness tells me,

“The old days, you stand 6 feet away from someone, or you washed your hands, or you went home, that would protect you from infection. That is no longer true.”

Knuckes said many people thought COVID-19 would run its course, but now we are dealing with mutations with higher infection rates. But, she said this isn’t bizarre or strange, in fact, it’s quite normal. Viruses do this type of thing all the time.

A common myth that Knuckles wants to combat is that the COVID-19 virus doesn’t affect children. She says it does. And the highly infectious rate of these new variants are making that myth more concerning. She says it’s up to the people in the middle.

This effects children. The only way we can protect some of them is to make it so they don’t come in contact with the virus. So, our older people and our children need the people in the middle to protect them.

Dr. Gwendolyn Knuckles, Carolina Clinic for Health and Wellness

Old North State Medical Society is partnering with a lot of groups, particularly faith-based groups, to help get the word out about vaccinations and to make it easier for people to be COVID vaccinated. Dr. Reverand James H. Alexander, Senior Pastor at Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist, said it’s a great way to get under-served communities access to the vaccine and vaccine education.

For persons of color, particularly African Americans, the church is really at the very foundation of their communities. So when you’re dealing with something like this where there are so many questions and so many myths out there concerning what the vaccine is and what it can potentially do or not do, you want to have a trusted source, so, like the church, to be able to communicate what’s going on and help dispel some of those myths.

Dr. Reverand James H. Alexander, Senior Pastor at Sycamore Hill Missionary Baptist Church

Alexander said hosting this clinic event just felt like the natural progression to the continuous work they’ve done throughout the pandemic to service members of their community when it comes to COVID-19.

For more information about hosting a vaccine clinic with ONSMS you can contact: covidvaccine@carolina-clinic.com or https://onsms.org/

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