Dr Njideka Udochi, the Founder and President of Millennium Family Practice, Maryland, United States, has teamed up with other doctors in a humanitarian gesture, tagged the Central Maryland Vaccine Equity Initiative, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to community hubs and churches in the United States.
This development came on the heels of the need for more efforts to reach those without much access to the vaccine as well as those hesitant to get the shot.
The doctors at the vanguard of this initiative said partnerships with community hubs like churches are key to reaching vulnerable people. What this means for the people who were present for church on Sunday at Morning Star Baptist Church in Woodlawn was that they were able to get the vaccine shot.
According to Bishop Dwayne Debnam, the pastor of the church, “It’s all about outreach, education and giving people a sense of familiarity that they have with the church.” He believes all of that instils trust in parishioners and families who may be hesitant about getting the shot.
“Why not the church? The church has always been in the African American community, the core of the community. We serve, we give food, we give vaccinations. We do what’s necessary to keep the community strong,” Debnam said.
In the words of Dr Njideka Udochi, who speaks on behalf of the Central Maryland Vaccine Equity Initiative, “These church members, a lot of them live in multigenerational homes, so they’re able to also tell their family members how important it is.”
Bishop Debnam opined that spreading information starts with familiar faces at church. “The key right now in shedding some of the hesitancy is to give information,” he said. “We are underserved. There’s so many inequalities and so to kind of level things out, this is the least we can do.”
A parishioner, Chekera Barrett, speaking about the issue of suspicion around the vaccine has this to say, “Honestly, I was really skeptical about going to get this vaccine. I did not want to go. My mom was basically, like, ‘Come on, it’s worth it. Getting my vaccine, I feel nice, comfortable and safe.”
The vaccine clinic was held by appointment only. The church said it was also able to accommodate everyone on its waiting list.