More churches turning into COVID-19 vaccine sites

Health officials are turning to places of worship to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Hundreds of seniors got the COVID-19 vaccine at Azalea Park Methodist Church recently, part of a state program to vaccinate at churches across Florida.  

"People trust the church. So if the members of the church are taking the vaccine --  if the church itself is saying, we’re doing this with you -- I think it makes it more trusting as well," said Clark McClain, Pastor of Azalea Park UMC.

Where they normally go to pray, 500 seniors got the vaccine during a church-hosted vaccine event this weekend.

Pastor McClain said getting vaccinated in a safe place makes some feel more comfortable, with church staff signing seniors up for appointments as well.

"Some of the people in our church don’t have computers, don’t even have the internet at home, or an email address," Pastor McClain explained.

"I think you’ve got a lot of buy-in from the parishioners, partially because it’s not some wild-eyed public health bureaucrat shaking their finger at them. It’s someone that they trust," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference on Monday.

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, is helping coordinate a vaccine event at Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church to reach Black and Hispanic communities.  

"In order to reach community level immunity, we can’t have pockets of individuals and neighborhoods that are not vaccinated," Rep. Thompson said. "None of our community members are going to be safe unless all of us are vaccinated."

"To know, oh that church that’s in the middle of our neighborhood, they’re doing it themselves...I hope it makes people feel comfortable, confident so that we can take care of our community," Pastor McClain added.

Rep. Thompson is making a list of churches that are interested in hosting vaccine events in our area and will send it to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

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