LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Just a couple months ago, Otis Mitchell’s oldest son came down with COVID-19. He has recovered, but it’s still one of the reasons why Mitchell got a coronavirus vaccine on Friday.
“My eyes are already open,” Mitchell said. “But to know that your child has experienced the virus, contracted the virus, I had to go out and do it.”
Mitchell was one of 100 people to sign up for a vaccine at the Community Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville’s Newburg neighborhood.
“I was hesitant at first, and I had to see what it was all about, what everything was all about,” Mitchell said. “But I signed up to get it because it was the right thing to do and I want to maintain my health as long as I can.”
He wasn’t the only one whose family has been impacted by the virus. Bonnie Lawson-Polk also got a vaccination, in part, because of how close it hit her.
“I’ve had three daughters and two son-in-laws that had the COVID[-19] virus and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t in that category,” Lawson-Polk said.
UofL Health is scheduling pop up vaccinations sites with dozens of churches around the city, and this was the first one. Roosevelt Lightsy Jr. is an assistant pastor at the church.
“Understanding the drive to reach more and further into underprivileged areas, we wanted to make sure they were able to reach the Newburg area as well,” Lightsy said.
Dr. Edward Miller with UofL Health said access to care is a big issue for the health care system.
“I think as a health care system, we’ve recognized that it’s our responsibility to be proactive and meet our community where they are as opposed to relying on them to meet us,” Miller said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”
Trying to reach out to the elderly and lower-income residents also means going offline to get people signed up for a vaccine.
“COVID has highlighted not everyone has access to internet, computers, things like that, so just putting it on a website is not enough,” Mitchell said. “So this is a way that we can use churches and the contacts that we have there to help educate and inform our population.”
And with some word of mouth in the church community, they’re hoping more seniors will come out to get vaccinated.