Pop-up clinic set up to vaccinate hesitant African Americans

SEATTLE — The race to recovery includes a pop-up clinic in Seattle’s Central District that vaccinated 300 people on Sunday.

Many African Americans and other people of color are still hesitant about getting the shot.

The clinic’s location was chosen specifically to attract people of color.

The vaccines are available to anyone who lives in this neighborhood.

But at this church in the heart of the Central District, the emphasis was on getting hesitant African Americans vaccinated.

The room at the Emerald City Community Seventh-day Adventist Church was converted into a pop-up clinic with one thing in mind: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of more people of color, especially hesitant African Americans.

Keiva Jones, 16, got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine under her mother’s watchful eye. Yolonda Jones said she heard concerns — even in her own family.

“My middle daughter — she doesn’t want to get it,” said Yolonda Jones. “She’s afraid to get it, you know, only because she’s hearing so much stuff about it.”

The Center for Multi-Cultural Health set up this pop-up clinic, staffed by the members of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Association, a nod to the first professionally trained African American nurse in the U.S.

“We’re hoping that if we make it convenient,” said Shelley Cooper-Ashford, the center’s executive director, “make it so that people who actually look like them who are actually administering the doses that they’ll come out.”

Emerald City’s pastor has been doing outreach of a more heavenly kind.

“It took some calling, some pastoring,” said EuGene Lewis, laughing, “to get them to actually come in and get the shot. But ah, so I live by example. I got the shot. Got both of them. I’m done.”

A longtime primary care physician also suggested the hesitant talk to those who have got the vaccine.

“What has your family had?” asked Dr. John Vassall, an internist. “What have your friends had? And then, finally, make your decision.”

Kenneth Vassar, who grew up in the Central District, said he didn’t need any persuading.

“I’m glad I did it,” said Vassar.

He said he feels more relaxed.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Oh, I’m happy. I’m OK with this.”

The hope is that more people who look like Vassar will happily take the vaccine too.

By the way, Yolonda Jones said she will get her Moderna vaccine on Thursday. She’s also working on talking her middle daughter into it.