San Diego Church Hosts Vaccination Clinic to Expand Access to Black Community

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Word spread quickly when Bethel AME Church announced they would be offering vaccinations by appointment or in-person walk-up.

“I didn't expect to see so many people but that's very good,” said Tony Hopkins, Logan Heights resident.

Hopkins was one of the hundreds who received a COVID-19 vaccine at the event.

“Wow, wow is what it looks like,” said Pastor Harvey Vaughn. “We registered 600 people but that number has exploded."

Bethel AME Church is one of San Diego’s oldest churches. It’s been in the community for over 130 years. Vaughn says he believes that’s partly the reason for such big crowds.

“This event is in the community and I think that because it's in the community people feel more comfortable because they know Bethel Church,” said Pastor Vaughn.

But he admits the long lines shine a light on a much bigger issue.

“This also speaks to the demand for services in underserved communities,” said Pastor Vaughn.

The church is located near Logan Heights and services a large Black and Brown community.

“COVID has impacted this community tremendously,” said Pastor Vaughn. “We have seen a lot of people die. Two pastors from this church died.”

Yet many still remain hesitant about the vaccine.

According to county data, only 47.2% of Black San Diegans have received a vaccine dose. That’s compared to 63.9% of Whites, 71.1% of Asians, and 72.7% of Latinos. 

The event is an effort to boost vaccinations among San Diego's Black community members.

“Again that goes back to why we do these community events,” said Robert Gillespie, MD, a cardiologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy. “We get 600 people out here because of that trust.”

Tackling vaccine hesitancy through trust one San Diegan at a time.

Gillespie, a member of Joint Initiatives for Racial Equity in Health, is one of the organizers of the vaccine event.

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