COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The US Census reports that 27% of South Carolinians are black or African American, yet less than 15% of the people who have started getting vaccinated in our state belong to this group. Some faith and community-based leaders in the African American community are saying vaccine hesitancy and access are playing a role.
On Monday, Brookland Baptist Church announced a vaccine site will be rolling out at their church on Thursday in partnership with Lexington Medical Center. Brookland Baptist Senior Pastor Charles B. Jackson said the goal is to increase access and trust in the vaccine to overcome some of the vaccine hesitancy he has witnessed in minority communities in Columbia and across the state.
“I am passionate about persons taking the vaccine, and one of the things that has been alarming to me has been the numbers in the minority community, people of color, who are reluctant to take the vaccine,” Jackson said.
Pastor Jackson said many in the minority community have been taking what he described as a “wait and see” approach towards the vaccine.
“Wait and see? When I look upon this pandemic, that which I see is painfully frightening,” Jackson said.
He said when he announced he had received the COVID-19 vaccine, others told him they were following suit. Jackson said he saw the church as a way to get the vaccine to minority communities.
“My experiences have been that people of color would trust the church a lot quicker than other institutions, organizations, or even businesses,” Jackson said.
South Carolina NAACP President Brenda Murphy said she’s found education about the vaccine reduces the hesitancy, but another major problem is access to the vaccine for minority communities.
“It’s internet issues, having access, as well as having the resources even if they have internet,” Murphy said.
Jackson said to solve both the hesitancy and access, Brookland Baptist Church partnered with Lexington Medical Center to administer the vaccine. Clinicians will administer doses inside the church’s Health and Wellness Center Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. A Lexington Medical Center spokesperson said the move allows Lexington Medical Center to increase vaccination volumes significantly as allocations increase.
“In order to make it more available to people of color because of their hesitancy, I asked could a site be set up at the Brookland Church?” Jackson said regarding his conversation with Lexington Medical Center.
“Lexington Medical Center is incredibly thankful to Brookland Baptist Church for joining forces with our hospital to vaccinate community members,” said Tod Augsburger, president & CEO of Lexington Medical Center. “We want to vaccinate as many people as possible against the COVID-19 virus and are grateful for the support of community partners as we work to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
Jackson said the response from the community has been overwhelming thus far.
“I mean we have already been flooded with calls,” Jackson said.
Pastor Jackson said over 3,000 people called today after the partnership was announced. He said that right now they can vaccinate up to 750 people a day at the site.
It’s by appointment only with Lexington Medical Center saying there are two ways to sign up. Go to //LexMed.com/vaccine and click on “Request Form” to register for the vaccine by providing information including name, date of birth, and email address. Lexington Medical Center will upload the email addresses to the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). Then, individuals will receive an email from VAMS allowing them to complete their registration and schedule a date and time for a vaccine appointment.
Individuals who do not have email or access to a computer can call (803) 739 – 3363 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A Lexington Medical Center representative will assist them with scheduling an appointment, even if they do not have an email address.
Upon arriving for a vaccine appointment, individuals will need to present a driver’s license or identification card.
All citizens receiving a vaccine must qualify under the current guidelines outlined by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.