Local Religious Leaders Increase Confidence and Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines | Local News
As the Reverend of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Santa Maria, Father Peter Kang never thought he would play a role in providing COVID-19 vaccines to the local community until one asks him to get down to work.
At the request of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Kang jumped at the opportunity to host a mobile vaccination clinic in St. Peter’s Thursday and educate community members in the days leading up to it.
“We run a weekly food ministry, and about 150 families come to us to serve each week. We thought it might be a good chance to help underserved people in the community get vaccinated if they haven’t already, ”Kang said.
In response to technological, time and language barriers faced by low-income county residents of color, particularly in North County, officials have launched mobile immunization clinics in partnership with churches and other community groups in the region. trust.
Kang is one of many church leaders in Santa Barbara County who have been called upon to fill the vaccine access gap among underserved communities, by health officials who understand that their own awareness can only go very far.
“We have conversations with pastors, fathers and other religious leaders across our county, asking them for the opportunity to visit their places of worship so that we can answer their questions and ask if they can sponsor any. mobile vaccination clinics, ”Director of Public Health Van Do-Reynoso said Tuesday.
With outreach from a trusted leader who has already made connections in the community and clinics operating at sites people know about, officials hope to see access to distribution become more equitable.
According to Kang, about 65 people signed up to receive a vaccine at the clinic on Thursday. A few were members of the St. Peter’s congregation, but the majority were residents of the surrounding neighborhood whom the leaders contacted in the days to come.
While some residents were reluctant to receive a vaccine, either out of fear or due to medical issues, many were happy to hear about the opportunity nearby.
“We are associated with institutions that are safe places. I think hearing from clergy like me can help dispel some of the misconceptions about vaccinations,” Kang said.
Twenty-seven miles away, in Lompoc, another mobile clinic was being held the same day at Grace Temple Baptist Missionary Church, overseen by Pastor Ron Wiley.
With help from the Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP, Wiley and other church staff surveyed the neighborhood with news from the clinic. In their outreach, they found that many local residents were not vaccinated due to what can be a confusing process to get an appointment at one of the large vaccination sites run by the county.
Grace Temple, on the other hand, was a site they were familiar with, even though they weren’t members of the congregation, and they felt comfortable signing up, Wiley said.
“Having the gunfire in the church was an advantage for people,” he said. “It made things a lot easier for people who didn’t know what they really needed to do and [where] go, and a lot of people were saying they couldn’t afford to get to the places they had heard about. ”
In her efforts to increase vaccinations among black residents and other communities of color, Santa Maria-Lompoc NAACP President Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt said religious leaders like Wiley play an important role.
“We believe that the most reliable leaders are faith leaders. We call them and involve them, [because] we believe they are trusted members of the community and that their members will listen to them, ”said Lyons-Pruitt.
As some mobile clinics reported that appointments were not being filled, Lyons-Pruitt said there was a great benefit in offering vaccines to people where they are instead of having to make appointments. you in advance.
At the Grace Temple Clinic, a woman in her 80s was present but did not know if she needed an injection. Later, however, she returned with her husband and they both agreed to be vaccinated, Lyons-Pruitt said.
“I guess she needed to think about it, and since we were there it made it easy. I think that’s how we’re going to have to do it,” she said.
Three teams of mobile clinics are based in Santa Maria, with two others in Lompoc and Santa Barbara. Organizations can request that a clinic be held in housing estates, community centers, workplaces, places of worship and other sites.
Organizations interested in offering a mobile vaccination clinic for up to 250 people can contact the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department by email at [email protected], or visit publichealthsbc.org/mobile-vaccine-program.