Kalamazoo church helps bridge vaccination gap for minority groups

COVID-19 Vaccine

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A vaccine clinic at a Kalamazoo church hopes to bridge the vaccination rate gap in communities of color.

Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services partnered with the Northside Ministry Alliance to hold the clinic Monday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Pastor Addis Moore says the clinic took a different approach to scheduling appointments by reaching out to people directly.

The two most senior members of the church, 101-year-old William Hodge and 100-year-old Annie Lewis, received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The centenarians want people to not be hesitant getting the vaccine.

“We have had vaccines before. We know about them,” Lewis said.

William Hodge’s son Vincent Hodge says getting the appointment was a blessing.

“He’s glad this is happening because he’s kind of relieved about it because he was worried about it all the time,” Vincent Hodge said.

William Hodge, 101, receive a COVID-19 vaccine at  Mt. Zion  in Kalamazoo on Feb. 4, 202
William Hodge, 101, receive a COVID-19 vaccine at  Mt. Zion  in Kalamazoo on Feb. 4, 202

The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows in the first month of vaccinations, 60% were given to white people and 5% were given to Black people nationwide.

There could be several reasons for this gap including access to care, less trust in vaccinations in minority communities and a lack of diversity in the health care field — the group that was one of the first to be vaccinated.

State health officials say they are collecting data on this issue and plan to release the information in the near future.

“We’re still dealing with structural racism and we’re trying to really operate in the structures that still exist and to get the vaccine to the one that’s most vulnerable, we’ve got to change some systems,” Moore said.

John Martin was a little hesitant to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at first but decided it was something he needed to do.

“You have to go in and get it. I think if you don’t you might regret it later,” Martin said.

He says vaccination is the best way to put an end to the pandemic that has claimed so many lives.

“You have to do something, you can’t just stand there and do nothing,” Martin said.

Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford says clinics like these are one way to help address the disparity in vaccination rates.

“I think we’ve experienced equity issues all along as it relates to access to health care, so this is certainly our attempt to be able to reach populations that we haven’t been very effective at reaching in the past,” Rutherford said.

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