BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Getting Mississippi’s rural and minority communities vaccinated against COVID-19 has been a challenge for both state and local health officials.
However since mid-January, Coastal Family Health Center has used its mobile unit to help underserved communities in the fight against the pandemic.
The drive-thru site at the Salvation Army Kroc Center on March 26 was no different, however organizers and partners wanted to attract more of the coast’s Hispanic residents.
Eighty doses were set aside for anyone with an appointment, like Antonio Martinez who got his first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
“When they give me the second one I’ll feel better,” he said. “But right now, I feel protected.”
Martinez joined other Hispanics in South Mississippi excited about getting the vaccine.
“We were waiting so long for the vaccine to come out,” Martinez said. “Now that we are able to take it, we were some of the first that wanted it.”
The site kept patients in their cars, making the process simple and quick.
“This is definitely giving people a better sense of security,” Michelle Sperre, the Outreach Programs Manager for Coastal Family Health Center, said. “To be able to provide that is an awesome feeling.”
Spanish-speaking staff helped man the site, breaking any language barriers, helping people fill out forms and spreading correct information about the virus and the vaccine.
“People don’t come because of fear, because they’re misinformed or it makes them scared. But I don’t believe in that,” patient Andres Gaviria said. “It doesn’t hurt. Now we are safe.”
While Friday’s vaccination efforts were primarily for Hispanic patients, organizers also wanted to make the vaccine more approachable and accessible for other minority communities.
“We’re so thankful to have this mobile unit so that we can kind of reach everyone that may not have an opportunity to go somewhere else,” Sperre said.
So far, Coastal Family Health staff has put nearly 2,000 shots into arms thanks to their efforts and help from community groups to spread the word.
The Kroc Center and El Pueblo partnered with the health center to put on the site, while local Rotary Club members volunteer.
“We’ve had people from Moss Point to Bay St. Louis that have been doing it for quite a while now,” Club Administrator Keith Clayton said.
As the health center continues to vaccinate people across South Mississippi, staff members start to see a better future.
“I’m really looking forward to it, having everyone vaccinated so we can all be safe,” Coastal Family Health PSR Lucy Valles said.
Para programar una cita para la vacuna COVID-19 a través del Departamento de Salud del Estado de Mississippi, visite este sitio.
Para ver un mapa interactivo de los proveedores de la vacuna COVID-19 en su área, visite este sitio.