If the people can’t get to the vaccine, bring the vaccine to the people.

That was the philosophy behind a COVID-19 vaccination event today at the Second Baptist Church in downtown Evanston.

“A disproportionate number of Black citizens have not received the vaccine,” both locally and nationwide, said the Rev. Michael Nabors, pastor at Second Baptist.

Having a vaccination event at the church, Nabors said, “made it more accessible.”

At first, Nabors explained, the plan was to administer 125 doses. However, demand was so great it was increased to 200.

Nabors said there are several reasons why vaccination rates are lower in the Black community. First, there’s the “digital divide.” Most vaccine sign-ups require computers and computer skills. For low income residents (of all races and ethnicities), there may not be “access to information technology,” Nabors said.

For this particular event, besides having online signups, it was also possible to use the city’s 311 phone service to register.

Nabors also said there is a “history of concern about trusting the health care system” among some Black individuals, whether it’s over the infamous 40-year Tuskegee syphilis experiment, or other more recent and personal experiences.

And, he added, “some people are just afraid.”

“We have to educate people to overcome those concerns,” Nabors said. That’s one reason he received his shot today, even though he could have gotten it sooner. He wanted those at the clinic to see him get vaccinated. “People are most influenced by our actions,” he noted.

COVID-19 actually made it more difficult to get that word out, Nabors said, because there has been no in-person church. Despite social media and Aoom, “it’s not the same as what people have been accustomed to,” hearing an in-person message from someone they trust.

Alwaalee Rogers received his first Moderna dose at the church this morning. He told Evanston Now doing so was important, particularly because he’s now getting back to work, and will be around a lot of people. “My wife made sure to make my appointment,” he said.

The clinic was put on by the church, in cooperation with the City of Evanston, which provided the vaccine, and NorthShore University HealthSystem, which staffed the event. A video was made at the event, with various community and religious leaders, to help spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Nabors said another vaccination event focusing on the Hispanic community will be held soon at St. Nicholas Church, plus there may be a third at a church in the 5th Ward.

“The church is not just about saving souls,” Nabors said. “It’s also about saving lives,” which getting vaccinated will do.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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