Waterbury Black church leaders, Yale team up to dispel myths about COVID vaccine for communities of color, seniors

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — In Waterbury, an aggressive effort to take the COVID-19 vaccine to hard-to-reach communities embarked on another chapter Friday. This time, one of the city’s most popular Black churches engaged in something unique to shatter some vaccine myths.

Friday was not your usual day at Mt. Olive AME Zion Church in Waterbury. People were flocking there for a different kind of boost — a chance to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mt. Olive became the City of Waterbury’s fourth pop-up mobile vaccination clinic in as many weeks — an effort by Mayor Neil O’Leary to utilize various city departments to get the vaccine directly to hard-to-reach communities like seniors and African-Americans.

RELATED: Waterbury church and health center team up to help stop the spread COVID after uptick in cases

They began by giving out 50 COVID vaccine shots at an apartment building for seniors downtown. Friday, they maxed out on the number of appointments set up for the clinic at Mt. Olive: 100.

Mt. Olive’s pastor made a strong push to have this clinic at his popular church.

“Out of concern for the members of Mt. Olive,” he said. “Also, the amount of concern for the Black and brown community.”

He told News 8 the Black and brown community is “often forgotten about” and several state leaders have said a better effort must be made to get shots of the vaccine into the arms of people of color.

Much effort has also been made about distrust of the vaccine among part of the African-American community because of experiments performed on that segment of the population in the past.

Rev. Hopson and some others in his church attended special forums by The Yale Center for Clinical Investigations in New Haven — discussions by several doctors and scientists.

Rev. Hopson telling News 8 the reason the church group wanted to take part:

“In order to provide information around the virus itself and around the vaccination in order to dispel myths and to provide facts.”

Facts that they took back to their church and community.

Rev. Hopson credits some of that for helping to produce the big demand for vaccine Friday. He tells News 8 within hours of telling his congregation about the pop-up COVID vaccine clinic, all of the appointments were filled.

The city will hold additional new clinics, but over the next four weeks, they will also return to the locations of the first four so crews can administer second doses while they continue to reach more new people.

Rev. Hopson applauds the city’s effort and feels like his church helped to make a difference Friday in the fight to control the spread of COVID-19.

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