NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The race to vaccinate is taking shape in more local community vaccination sites with the hope to make more people feel more comfortable getting vaccinated.
Shiloh Baptist Church in Norfolk held a two-day walk-in vaccination clinic Thursday and Friday for the community as public health officials begin to focus on more personalized community outreach.
“Unfortunately we’re seeing a decrease in the demand,” said Norfolk Health Department COO Paul Brumund. “We’re looking to encourage people to come to these sites and that’s why we’re here in the neighborhoods to make it as convenient as possible for people to come in.”
Faith leaders, like Senior Pastor Keith Jones of the Shiloh Baptist Church, are now joining the fight to get their communities vaccinated, as they try to dispel vaccine rumors and provide a more holistic approach to their ministry.
“There are some people who are afraid. There are some people who have historic mistrust of the healthcare system,” said Pastor Jones. “And what we’re trying to do is break down those barriers so that people can live.”
Some Norfolk State University students also rolled up their sleeves to help vaccinate the community Friday.
Dajah Raynor said she’s out here helping because she loves caring for others as nurses did for her when she was sick as a child.
“We really need more representation of African American people in the community and it makes them feel safe,” she said. “Trusting in someone who looks like them or just even like being in their neighborhood.”
Norfolk State Instructor Melody Armstrong says these local community vaccination sites make at-risk communities feel more comfortable and help bridge the gap in medical access, specifically to communities of color.
“Being that conduit or that advocate to say, ‘Yes, we do have equity and it does exist.’ It’s not just something on paper, but it’s happening in real-time I think is important,” said Armstrong.
The community push to vaccinate encourages neighbors to get the shot so a return to normalcy can finally come.
“We’re tired of wearing masks,” said Jones. “And so we thought, so that everyone could be mask-free, we wanted to provide these [vaccinations] in our communities.”
Shiloh Baptist Church says they hope to continue to have more walk-in vaccination sites for the community in the future.