Orangeburg Co. NAACP builds coalition with hopes of bringing doses to rural communities

Orangeburg Co. NAACP builds coalition with hopes of bringing doses to rural communities

SANTEE, S.C. (WIS) - For some, going to COVID-19 vaccination clinics is a logistical challenge.

The Orangeburg NAACP Branch is looking to bring the doses to them.

Branch President Barbara Johnson Williams said she has recruited 10 institutions across the county (churches, barbershops, and a pharmacy) to offer their spaces as vaccine clinics.

The county has had walk-in and mass vaccination clinics, but Williams said the issues of transportation and trust have gotten in the way.

”Some people are still not comfortable with getting the vaccine. The mistrust is so broad until we have to get this information to the community, that it’s okay to take it,” she said.

She said the goal of the localized spaces is to allow those without cars or access to public transit an opportunity to get vaccinated.

Williams said the state NAACP office is working with DHEC on a late-March, early-April timeframe for the clinics.

A DHEC spokesperson said the department is in contact with the NAACP, but no sites or times have been scheduled.

One of locations offering its space is the Barber’s Loft in Santee. Co-owner Leonard Pelzer said the barbershop is a natural gathering place.

“Here is a place where everybody comes to let their hair down. We talk about politics, we talk about religion, we talk about issues,” he said.

The idea of familiar surroundings was echoed by Rev. Birdie Taylor at First Providence Baptist Church down the road.

“If you can’t trust church people or church folks, my God who can you trust?” she said.

DHEC data shows Orangeburg County is in the middle of the pack for vaccination rates, with 2,249 out of every 10,000 eligible individuals having received a vaccine dose as of Mar. 13.

As of March 15, neither COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Santee is accepting appointments (per DHEC’s vaccine locator).

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