Novant Health expanding COVID-19 vaccine access to reach more vulnerable communities

Novant Health expanding COVID-19 vaccine access to reach more vulnerable communities
(Source: Morgan Newell, WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Together with faith-based organizations, school systems and community partners, Novant Health has begun to operationalize its comprehensive plan to establish COVID-19 vaccine access points in North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities to reach historically marginalized populations: Black and Latino Americans.

Beginning Saturday, Jan. 23, Novant Health will begin hosting “pop-up” vaccination events at churches, school locations and Novant Health community access clinics in Winston-Salem and Charlotte.

The health system will rotate among locations in both Winston-Salem and Charlotte, targeting one location in each community per weekend.

These clinics will not only expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are currently eligible within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) guidelines but will also address vaccine hesitancy by having trusted pillars of communities communicate the importance of vaccination.

“We recognize that members of these communities have legitimate and valid mistrust around vaccines,” said Dr. Jerome Williams Jr., senior vice president, consumer engagement, Novant Health. “These vaccination events will allow us to partner with church leaders to reach their congregations, providing education and information about the safety and importance of the vaccine, while also offering it close to home in a comfortable and trusted environment.”

Two of those partnerships are with Union Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte.

“I’ve been telling my congregation we have two choices: Refuse the vaccine and risk the consequences of COVID-19, which has disproportionately ravaged our communities, or get the vaccine as an instrument of healing from God,” said Bishop Sir Walter Lee Mack Jr., senior pastor of Union Baptist Church. “I believe this vaccine is good for us. It is not something we should fear.”

In addition to churches, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are opening up their locations in the heart of our underserved ZIP codes to help reach more people. Novant Health clinics will also be used. Additional plans are pending and are dependent on vaccination allocation from NCDHHS.

“No matter how many doses of the vaccine we receive from the state, Novant Health is fully committed and determined to ensure that our distribution is equitable,” Williams said. “We will continue to bring vaccines directly to the communities that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. It’s our commitment that anyone who wants a vaccine will get a vaccine.”

These events are open to everyone, both non-Novant Health and Novant Health patients who are currently eligible under the state guidelines. Appointments are required and the host site will assist with outreach and scheduling to ensure that community members most in need are able to easily access an appointment.

Community members looking for more information about how, when and where to get vaccinated should visit NovantHealth.org/Vaccine for more information.

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