UPDATE: On one-year COVID anniversary, vaccine at church takes on bigger meaning


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Another pop-up COVID vaccine clinic Saturday reaches into an under-served neighborhood.

And like similar previous events, a church played host to the clinic.

A steady stream of people came in and out of Shiloh Baptist, many from the largely Black neighborhood that surrounds the church of East Fifth Street in Lexington.

The goal by UK Healthcare was to overcome issues of access and trust that often lead minorities to not get the vaccine despite higher death and illness rates.

Fittingly Saturday, March 6 marks the one-year anniversary of the first COVID case in the state. So the clinic has an even bigger meaning.

“Being a neighbor, many people still trust houses of worship as a safe place they can trust to take a vaccine or to do some things they may otherwise feel uncomfortable with,” Rev. L. Clark Williams, Shiloh’s director of ministries, said f why the church wanted to host the clinic.

“It’s been good to see people again come in. We’ve been in online worship for a year now and so it’s good to see folks and get the vaccine here and we believe that will speed up the day when we are able to open the doors back up on Sunday so this has really been great,” Williams continued, recognizing the broader significance.

About 500 people were vaccinated. It’s the third of four pop-up clinics UK Healthcare is doing in the community.

The last one is next Saturday.

Th clinics started Feb. 20 when UK and UK HealthCare began the clinics and continued community testing at four sites over successive weekends. The clinic will then return to those sites at the appropriate dates for booster shots.

The state Department of Public Health is allocating 500 vaccine doses each weekend for the effort. The vaccines and continued testing for COVID-19 will be given at no cost.

The equity and access initiative was announced two weeks ago by Gov. Andy Beshear. It is in response to obstacles that have prevented individuals with access and equity issues from receiving the vaccine, including groups who are marginalized because of race, language, economic status and other key factors.

Here are details of the initiative:

  • The first-shot clinics and testing will be held Feb. 20, Feb. 27, March 6 and March 13. Follow-up clinics booster shots and continued testing will be held at the same sites the following four weekends in the same order.
  • Clinic times each weekend will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • The next clinic locations are:
    • March 6: Shiloh Baptist Church, 237 E. Fifth Street.
    • March 13: Charles Young Community Center, 540 E. Third Street.

Other details of the initiative include:

  • The community organizations representing these populations are working with UK to identify and invite those who will receive shots each weekend.
  • Walk-up appointments or people not scheduled in advance will not be permitted.
  • UK and UK HealthCare will staff the clinics. Clinical staff for the outreach clinics will include physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and medical and pharmacy students from the UK colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy as well as University Health Service.
  • Non-clinical registration and logistics coordinators and patient educators will include personnel from UK’s Office for Student Success and the UK HealthCare Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

“We know that access and equity for medically underserved communities — and communities of color — continues to be an issue for too many in our region and across the state,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “Addressing that issue requires commitment. It requires partnership. This is a role UK and UK HealthCare, the state and Lexington — along with partners in faith communities and business — can and must fill. It is part of our mission and who we are for Kentucky.”

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