Pastor Reaches Out to Area Churches to Coordinate COVID-19 Vaccines
Last updated 2/17/2021 at 12:09pm
The Rev. J.J. Pierce was concerned that not enough people, especially those in the black community, were able to access vaccines for COVID-19. So he stepped up and started working with the Polk County Health Department to bring vaccines for about 600 people in Lake Wales.
Pierce got the idea from a pastor friend in Winter Haven. So Pierce worked with about 20 churches in the area to identify people age 65 and over and health care workers who needed the vaccines. A schedule was created for them to come to his church, First Institutional Missionary Baptist Church on D Street between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.
"We needed a vaccination site in the black community because we are the most vulnerable," Pierce said, noting some of the elderly have difficulty traveling or using a computer to register online for the vaccines.
"I got with churches in our area to make sure the word gets out to them as well, to all ethnicities," Pierce said, noting the workers can vaccinate about 45 people in 30 minutes. Churches identified those wanting vaccines and were given time slots based upon the numbers they were bringing.
As of Feb. 15, Pierce said 564 people had signed up, and he was still waiting for the list from one church. He expressed appreciation to health department staff Jennifer Brandow and Tammie Durden for helping coordination the vaccinations.
Pierce said people had to sign up in advance and complete paperwork to participate. But some who meet the criteria of being age 65 and over or health care workers may be accommodated if there are leftover vaccine doses at the end of the day.
Pierce greeted people waiting in line along the sidewalk around the church. Many expressed appreciation for the local vaccine site, since they had been on wait lists in nearby communities.