KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As vaccinations ramp up, health officials are working hard to make sure they're available to the hardest hit communities: people of color.
There are over 785 people signed up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine in Kalamazoo's Northside neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday.
It is all made possible by a pharmacy in Portage who secured 2,500 doses that the state was working to distribute to underserved populations.
"With every vaccine, one life is saved. It is not just one life, it is the whole family because it affects all of us. It says ‘love thy neighbor’, and so this is the neighborhood we are in," said Arun Tandon, the owner of Advanced Health Pharmacy in Portage.
With more than one million Michiganders fully vaccinated and counting, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is putting a focus on getting vaccines to the underserved populations.
Just last week, Advanced Pharmacy applied with the state for the 2,500 doses.
"They were trying to reach out to people who don’t have access to healthcare. They might not have transportation. They might have language barrier. They wanted to offer vaccines to those areas," said Tandon.
About 2,500 vaccine doses will be available to folks living in the underserved neighborhoods of #KalamazooCounty.— Lauren Kummer (@LaurenKummerTV) March 12, 2021
Nonprofit group "Mothers of Hope" is working to get people of color signed up ahead of the clinics in the #Northside neighborhood this weekend. @FOX17 pic.twitter.com/02xVVdp7Ky
Advanced Pharmacy partnered with community organizations like "Mothers of Hope" in the neighborhoods that need them.
So, "Mothers of Hope" has been working to get the residents of the urban community signed up.
"Trust is a huge factor. As you know, there is a lot of questions and hesitation, especially in the black and Latin-X community because of history, because we also have the greatest disparities particularly when it comes to health and health outcomes, and so we are a trusted voice," said Stephanie Williams, the program director for Mothers of Hope.
The vaccination clinic will be drive-thru to prevent a large gathering, but they will aslo have walk-up options for those who are unable to make it by car.
The focus group is those 50 and older and/or essential workers who live in Kalamazoo County.
Williams said they have a goal of vaccinating 1,000 people.
"We want people to make informed decisions, but also that they can do that in a space that they are familiar with where they know it is multi-culturally competent. We want them to know that we will bring the best people to make sure they are getting this vaccine in a safe, healthy and respectable way," said Williams.
Saturday and Sundays vaccination clinics will be held at "Mothers of Hope" on 603 Ada Street in Kalamazoo. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.
To sign up, you can call/text "Mothers of Hope" at (269) 270-5810 or click this link.
Three additional clinics will be held Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the Edison, downtown and Eastside neighborhoods.
Clinic locations and times:
- Monday, March 15 - Eastside Neighborhood at 2800 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, MI, 49048 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Tuesday, March 16 - Bronson Park at 212 S. Park Street W., Kalamazoo, MI, 49007 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 17 - Edison Neighborhood at 936 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.